May 14, 2020 / 12:41 AM / in 2 months

Dollar hits three-week high, shrugging off grim U.S. data

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar rose to a three-week high on Thursday as traders overlooked another week of roughly 3 million new jobless claims, evidence of a second wave of coronavirus-related lay-offs.

The Japanese yen JPY= and Swiss franc CHF= were both weaker against the dollar and flat versus the euro, and U.S. stocks ended the day up, suggesting the dollar’s bid was not part of a broader risk-off move.

The Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report on Thursday, the most timely data on the economy, supports the contention that it would take a while for activity to rebound even as businesses in many states reopen after shuttering in mid-March as authorities tried to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.

The latest data lifted to 36.5 million the number of people who have filed claims for unemployment benefits since mid-March, with more than one in five workers losing their job. Claims will be closely watched in the coming weeks for signs of whether companies rehire workers as businesses reopen.

Against a basket of its rivals =USD, the dollar was up 0.20% at 100.37, hitting a three-week high of 100.56 early in the session.

“The USD shrugged off the higher-than-forecast jobless claims, and deflationary trade prices, though Wall Street took a dive, before later turning higher,” wrote analysts at Action Economics.

The euro was down 0.23% against the dollar at $1.079 EUR=.

“Economic fundamentals remain bleak on both sides of the Atlantic, with markets continuing to look through the data. Big picture, the pairing remains inside of recent trading ranges, and until a clearer view of the re-opening of economies becomes evident, more of the same is anticipated,” wrote the analysts.

Earlier in the session the pound GBP= tumbled below the $1.22 line for the first time in more than five weeks after Wednesday’s data showed Britain’s economy shrank by a record 5.8% in March as the coronavirus crisis escalated. It later recovered, last trading down only 0.06% at $1.222.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Kate Duguid; Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler

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