NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar rose on Friday after a jobs report for March showed than U.S. job gains were better than expected during the month while wage pressures were muted.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 196,000 jobs last month. Data for February was revised modestly up to show payrolls rising by 33,000 jobs instead of the previously reported 20,000. February job gains were the smallest since September 2017.
Wage gains also slowed in March and more people dropped out of the labor force. Average hourly earnings increased by four cents, or 0.1 percent in March after jumping 0.4 percent in February.
“It’s a pretty mixed report. The headline was a little bit better than expected, February was revised up slightly, but obviously the average hourly earnings was a big disappointment,” said Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.
Reaction in the dollar was relatively muted, and the greenback initially fell before moving into positive territory. The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was last up 0.10% on the day at 97.402.
Investors are focused on data for further clues about Federal Reserve policy after the U.S. central bank stunned markets in March by abandoning projections for any interest rate hikes this year.
“The takeaway for me is that it basically means steady as she goes,” said Thin.
“The thought of any rate cuts this year seems premature, but at the same time the lack of any wage pressures argues against any hikes. So we’re in the limbo again where the Fed is waiting and seeing,” he said.
President Donald Trump said on Friday the Fed should lower interest rates and take other unconventional measures to ease pressure on an economy that he said they slowed down.
Trade talks between the U.S. and China are also in focus as investors hope an agreement may remove some global headwinds to growth.
Trump said on Thursday the countries were close to a deal that could be announced within four weeks, while warning Beijing that it would be difficult to allow trade to continue without a pact.
Sterling weakened on Friday as doubts swirled over British Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to further delay Brexit.
Editing by Susan Thomas