May 15, 2020 / 5:32 AM / 2 months ago

Dollar notches small weekly gain after weak U.S. data

FILE PHOTO: A woman counts U.S. dollar bills at her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 28, 2018. Picture taken August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rose on Friday to notch a 0.66% weekly gain as the threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections rattled investors as did a slew of bleak U.S. economic data.

The U.S. dollar index =USD attracted safe-haven bets on Friday after U.S. retail sales endured a second straight month of record declines in April as the novel coronavirus pandemic kept Americans at home, putting the economy on track for its biggest contraction in the second quarter since the Great Depression.

The dollar index was up 0.13% on Friday afternoon to 100.4 and was flat against the Japanese yen JPY=, another primary safe-haven currency. Although investors moved out of risk assets on Friday morning, the S&P 500 index .SPX and Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI ended the day slightly up.

The collapse in retail sales reported by the Commerce Department on Friday added to the historic loss of 20.5 million jobs last month in underscoring the deepening economic slump. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday warned of an “extended period” of weak growth and stagnant incomes.

“The USD looks set to cap the week on a high note. It’s also the best performing asset over the past month, which is also interesting since it parallels with a good showing of the MSCI China index,” said Mark McCormick, global head of foreign exchange strategy at TD Securities.

New COVID-19 infections have been recorded in countries that have eased stay-at-home restrictions, denting earlier investor optimism that economies could get back to close to normal soon. Total cases in Germany increased by 913 to 173,152 on Thursday and the death toll rose by 101 to 7,824 after the country eased a nationwide lockdown.

“On a worldwide level, we think markets may be finally coming around to the belief that there’s no V-shaped recovery in the offing,” said McCormick.

“Of the countries we track, 100% of them have seen their GDP forecasts downgraded for the coming year.”

The euro was last 0.08% stronger against the dollar at $1.081 EUR=. The British pound GBP= remained under pressure, falling 0.91% to $1.211, its lowest since March 26, after the European Union’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Friday called a third round of talks with Britain on a new partnership “disappointing”.

Reporting by Kate Duguid in New York and Olga Cotaga in London; Editing by David Gregorio and Sonya Hepinstall

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