Daily Afternoon Report 18.02.2016

The dollar edged higher against the other major currencies on Thursday, after the release of upbeat U.S. economic reports, although uncertainty over whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year continued to weigh.

USD/JPY fell 0.21% to 113.86.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending February 13 decreased by 7,000 to a 12-week low of 262,000 from the previous week’s total of 269,000. Analysts expected jobless claims to rise by 6,000 to 275,000 last week.

In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index improved to -2.8 this month from January’s reading of -3.5. Analysts had expected the index to hit -3.0 in February.

The greenback had weakened mildly after Fed policymakers said, in the minutes of the bank’s January policy meeting released on Wednesday, that tighter global financial conditions could weigh on the U.S. economy and considered changing their planned path of interest rate hikes in 2016.

Separately, sentiment weakened after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development cut its global growth forecast for this year and warned that some emerging markets are at risk of exchange-rate volatility.

The OECD said global gross domestic product will expand 3.0% in 2016, down from November’s prediction of 3.3%.

EUR/USD declined 0.38% to 1.1086.

The minutes of the European Central Bank’s January meeting signaled that the bank is prepared to inject further monetary easing next month if necessary to bolster growth.

“In a situation where risks were predominantly on the downside and new downside risks were emerging, it would be preferable to act pre-emptively,” the minutes said.

Elsewhere, the dollar was lower against the pound, with GBP/USD up 0.58% at 1.4374 and moved higher against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF rising 0.27% to 0.9952.

Meanwhile, the Australian and New Zealand dollars were weaker, with AUD/USD down 0.40% at 0.7155 and with NZD/USD easing 0.09% to 0.6623.

USD/CAD was little changed at 1.3683, as a rebound in oil prices failed to lend support to the commodity-related loonie.

Oil prices moved back above $31 a barrel on Thursday after Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Thursday that he supports efforts by OPEC members to keep prices stable, but did not say if Iran would cap its output at current levels.

In Canada, data showed that wholesale sales increased by 2.0% in December, beating expectations for an uptick of 0.2%. Wholesale sales gained 1.9% in November, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated 1.8% rise.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.08% at 96.95.