TOKYO - The dollar gained on Friday as U.S. data suggested the world’s largest economy maintained a moderate growth pace at the end of 2019, reaching an eight-month peak against the safe-haven yen.
U.S. retail sales increased for a third straight month in December and the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped for a fifth straight week last week, indicating the labor market remained strong.
Other data showed a gauge of manufacturing activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region rebounded in January to its highest in eight months, leading the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to call the factory outlook the brightest in more than 18 months.
“Consumers opened the throttle and took more shopping trips to the malls across America, which ensures GDP growth will be comfortably above 2 percent in the fourth quarter,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank. “There’s nothing limiting this economic expansion.”
The dollar rose to as high as 110.24 yen versus the Japanese currency, its highest level since late May in 2019.
“A lift in U.S. Treasury yields, a firmer U.S. dollar and record highs in many global equity markets have encouraged the dollar/yen higher,” said Richard Grace, chief currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in Sydney.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's strength against a basket of six major currencies, last stood at 97.308, up 0.1% on the day. The euro barely moved at $1.1137
The Australian dollar gained to as high as $0.69335 , its 1-1/2-week high of $0.6897 overnight and was last traded at $0.6897.
Looking ahead, the Aussie currency will likely take some modest guidance from upcoming Chinese fourth-quarter gross domestic product report, CBA’s Grace added, although he doesn’t expect the Aussie dollar to break its recent range of $0.6934 to $0.6870.
China will release its GDP figures later in the day (0200 GMT), along with December factory output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment.
Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Gerry Doyle
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