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Forex – Aussie dollar up as housing data shows surprise gains

Investing.com –

Investing.com – The Aussie held early gains on Friday after upbeat housing data, while the yen continued to trade softer.

AUD/USD changed hands at 0.6993, up 0.15%, while USD/JPY traded at 118.19, up 0.10%.

In Australia, data on home loans month-on-month for November showed a surprise 1.8% gain from a 0.5% drop seen, while with investment housing finance rose 0.7%, recovering from a 6.1% drop the previous month.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.01% at 99.13.

Overnight, the dollar edged higher against the other major currencies on Thursday, helped by data showing that U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week and as concerns over the ongoing oil rout persisted.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending January 8 increased by 7,000 to 284,000 from the previous week’s total of 277,000. Analysts expected jobless claims to fall by 2,000 to 275,000 last week.

The dollar had also strengthened earlier, as prices for Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell below the $30 per barrel threshold for the first time since 2004, pressured lower by a global supply glut and fears of a slowdown in China.

Investors also remained cautious after a series of apparently coordinated gun and bomb attacks were carried out in the heart of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta Thursday morning. At least seven people were killed.

The euro weakened earlier, after the minutes of the European Central Bank’s meeting on December 3 showed that some members of the governing council favored a larger cut to the deposit rate than was eventually announced.

The minutes also said the possibility was raised of expanding monthly asset purchases under the central bank’s quantitative easing program from the current level of €60 billion, or of frontloading asset purchases.

Also Thursday, the minutes of the Bank of England’s latest policy meeting showed that the majority of policymakers said they expected pickup in inflation would be “be slightly more gradual in the near term than forecast in the Committee’s November Inflation Report projections.”

Recent volatility in financial markets also underlined the downside risks to global growth, the minutes said.

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