Dollar Moves Sideways Against Peers

The U.S. dollar stayed quite sluggish against most of its rivals on Friday, amid a slew of economic data.

Data released by the Commerce Department showed retail sales rose by 0.3% in January after edging up by a downwardly revised 0.2% in December. Economists had expected retail sales to climb by 0.3%, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding sales by motor vehicles and parts dealers, retail sales still rose by 0.3% in January after climbing by 0.6% in December. Ex-auto sales were also expected to increase by 0.3%.

A report released by the Labor Department showed U.S. import prices were unchanged in January after rising by a downwardly revised 0.2% in December. Economists had expected import prices to dip by 0.2% compared to the 0.3% increase originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said export prices climbed by 0.7% in January after slipping by 0.2% in December. Export prices had been expected to edge down by 0.1%.

A report from the University of Michigan showed the consumer sentiment index rose to 100.9 in February from the final January reading of 99.8. The uptick surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge down to 99.5.

Markets were also tracking news about the coronavirus infection. A report from China’s National Health Commission showed an additional 121 deaths in China and nearly 5,100 new cases of the virus across the mainland on Thursday.

Till Thursday, the virus has killed about 1,380 people in mainland China, according to the commission’s report.

The Dollar Index, which declined to 99.00 after staying above the flat line early on in the session, recoverd subsequently, and despite suffering a mild setback again, edged up to 99.14 around late afternoon.

Against the Euro, the dollar was up marginally at $1.0836, after having weakened to $1.0863 earlier in the day. The euro area economy grew as initially estimated in the fourth quarter, flash estimates from Eurostat revealed Friday. Gross domestic product in the 19-nation bloc grew only 0.1% sequentially, following third quarter’s 0.3% expansion. The expansion was the slowest growth since early 2013.

On a yearly basis, economic growth eased to 0.9% from 1.2% in the third quarter. The fourth quarter growth was revised down from 1%.

Against Pound Sterling, the dollar was down at $1.3049, after exhibiting strength early on in the session, when it rose to $1.3002.

The Japanese Yen strengthened to 109.76 a dollar, from around 109.90 early on in the session. Japan’s tertiary industry activity declined unexpectedly in December, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed.

The tertiary industry activity index fell 0.2% month-on-month in December. Economists had forecast a 0.1% rise.

The dollar was weak against the loonie at 1.3251. Against Swiss franc, it gained about 0.28% at 0.9820. Against the Aussie, it was up marginally with the AUD-USD pair at 0.6713.

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