The dollar remained broadly higher against the other major currencies on Thursday, as demand for the greenback was boosted by data showing that U.S. jobless claims fell to the lowest level in more than eight years last week.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending July 19 declined by 19,000 to 284,000, from the previous week’s total of 303,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 5,000 to 308,000 last week.
The data fuelled speculation over the timing of a possible rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
A separate report showed that U.S. new home sales dropped 8.1% to 406,000 units last month, worse than expectations for a decline of 5.3%, pointing to underlying weakness in the housing sector.
EUR/USD held steady, close to eight-month lows at 1.3465.
The euro strengthened earlier, after a report showed that the preliminary reading of the euro zone manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to a two-month high of 51.9 this month. The bloc’s services PMI jumped to a 38-month high of 54.4.
Private sector activity in Germany also expanded in July, with the country’s services PMI jumping to a 37 month high. The French service sector also expanded this month, but the contraction in the country's manufacturing sector deepened.
But the euro's gains were limited by fears that tougher economic sanctions on Russia would have a negative impact on the outlook for growth in the currency bloc, which has close trade ties with Moscow.
Sterling fell to fresh one-month lows, with GBP/USD sliding 0.40% to 1.7976. The drop in the pound came after data showed that U.K. retail sales rose just 0.1% in June, falling short of expectations for a 0.3% increase.
Still, retail sales rose 4.5% on a year-over-year basis in the three months to June. It was the fastest quarterly increase in 10 years, the ONS said, indicating that the U.K.’s consumer driven recovery is continuing.
The New Zealand dollar remained sharply lower, with NZD/USD down 1.01% to 0.8585. The kiwi dropped after the Reserve Bank raised interest rates to 3.5% from 3.25% on Thursday but indicated that rates would remain on hold for the rest of the year.
The US Dollar Index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was close to six-week highs at 80.93.