The dollar edged up against a basket of currencies on Friday as investors looked to US jobs and wages data later in the day for further clues as to when the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates.
Another solid payrolls reading coupled with a rebound in previously subdued wage growth would favour the dollar, reviving views that the Fed might consider raising interest rates as early as mid-year.
Non-farm payrolls increased 234,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey, after advancing 252,000 in December. That would mark the 12th straight month of job gains above 200,000, the longest streak since 1994.
“Nothing is more likely to point towards a medium-term rise in inflation than growing wages,’’ said Esther Reichelt, currency strategist at Commerzbank.
“In December, these had recorded a surprise fall which suggests we could see a countermove in January. If the wage data disappoints, the going will get tough for the dollar.’’
The dollar index was up 0.1 per cent at 93.665. It has retreated over the past couple of weeks after hitting an 11-year high of 95.481 on January 23. The dollar was pegged back against the yen and was trading at 117.30 yen.
But it climbed against the euro. The single currency was down 0.3 per cent at $1.1445, having surged 1.2 per cent the previous day. The euro’s rise on Thursday was partly helped by talk that the Swiss National Bank (SNB) had bought euros to weaken the Swiss franc.
Swiss forex reserves
Data from the SNB on Friday showed foreign exchange reserves rose in January to 498.398 billion francs, reinforcing impressions that it has been intervening to weaken the franc.
The SNB shocked markets by scrapping a three-year-old 1.20 francs per euro cap last month, a policy it later said would have cost 100 billion francs to defend in January alone.
“As such, a number above 440 billion francs will indicate that the SNB has been intervening to soften the franc. We view that a confirmation of SNB intervention should weigh on the franc," BNP Paribas said in a note.
In the European session, there were good volumes in the Danish crown whose weakness on Thursday after a fourth interest rate cut in three weeks proved fleeting. The euro was 0.01 per cent higher at 7.4441 crowns, with traders citing intervention by the central bank in Copenhagen to weaken the crown.