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US Dollar Flat As Initial Jobless Claims Show Steady Decline

May 21, 2020 at 14:10 by Andrew Moran

The US dollar is trading flat on Thursday as the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits continues its downward pattern, suggesting the job-loss trend peaked at the end of March. US financial markets were flat across the board, so there was not a huge push into the traditional safe-haven asset toward the end of the trading week.

According to the Department of Labor, the initial jobless claims hit 2.438 million for the week ending May 16, down from the previous week’s two-month low reading of 2.687 million. The market had penciled in 2.4 million.

Continuing jobless claims topped 25 million, up from last week’s 22.548 million. The four-week moving average, which removes the week-to-week volatility, reached 3.042 million, down from 3.543 million a week ago.

In the last ten weeks, nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs. This is equal to one in five workers.

On Thursday, the IHS Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in May clocked in at 39.8, up from 36.1 in April. Analysts had anticipated 38. The composite PMI rose from 27 to 36.4, while the services PMI jumped from 26.7 to 39.4.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s manufacturing index surged to -43.1 in May, up from -56.6 in April. The market expected -41.5, but it is still the third consecutive month of contracting factory activity in the City of Brotherly Love. New orders, shipments, employees, and the average workweek fell; and inventories expanded. Businesses do not believe the slump will last longer than six months.

On the housing front, existing home sales crashed 17.85% last month, slightly better than the projection of -18.9%.

The US Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, made slight gains after the latest labor report. The index rose 0.03% to 99.15, from an opening of 99.18. After a massive rally over the last month, the greenback has taken a breather this week, paring its year-to-date gain to under 3%.

The USD/CAD currency pair edged up 0.06% to 1.3910, from an opening of 1.3901, at 12:55 GMT on Thursday. The EUR/USD ticked up 0.04% to 1.0984, from an opening of 1.0981.

If you have any questions, comments, or opinions regarding the US Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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