Dollar up 1 percent vs yen after strong U.S. jobs data

NEW YORK Sat May 4, 2013 2:21am IST

1 of 3. A businessman looks at a screen displaying a photo of U.S. 100 dollar bank notes in Tokyo April 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar surged more than 1 percent against the yen on Friday to its highest level in a week after surprisingly strong U.S. April jobs data fueled optimism about the resiliency of the U.S. economy.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 165,000 in April, and job increases for the previous months were revised higher. The unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.5 percent. The numbers topped economists' expectations.

"With the yen, the story is everybody is expecting outflows given their stimulus plan," Alvise Marino, currency strategist at Credit Suisse in New York, said. "The fact that you are seeing good growth abroad, it improves the likelihood that money moves out and there is an attraction of that Japanese cash outflow."

The dollar rose 1.13 percent to 99.06 yen, its biggest one-day rise in two weeks, after hitting a session peak of 99.26 yen, according to Reuters data. The dollar hit a four-year high of 99.94 yen on April 11, but the rally stalled ahead of resistance and option barriers around 100 yen.

Dean Popplewell, chief currency strategist at OANDA in Toronto, said more positive U.S. data in the coming weeks could push the dollar to breach the 100 yen level.

"After a month of struggling to break the psychological 100 yen barrier, the bears must now feel more confident after Friday's nonfarm payrolls print that another positive U.S. data print over the next two weeks could finally prove to be the catalyst that allows the market to punch through this imaginary barrier," he said.

The dollar's rally lost some momentum after separate data showed the pace of growth in the vast U.S. services sector slowed in April to its weakest level in nine months, while U.S. factory orders fell sharply in March.

The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday after its policy meeting that it will continue buying $85 billion in bonds each month to keep interest rates low and spur growth. The Fed said it would step up purchases if needed to protect the economy.

U.S. stocks advanced on the jobs report. The benchmark S&P 500 stock index .SPX closed up 1.04 percent to 1,614.22.

EURO VULNERABLE

The euro rose 0.40 percent to $1.3115, rebounding after finding support in the $1.3050 area. It had hit a session low of $1.3033 in the wake of the U.S. jobs data. Traders said the euro failed to move further below $1.3050, leading to an intraday rebound.

Sentiment on the euro remained negative, analysts said, after the European Central Bank's president, Mario Draghi, said Thursday that the bank was technically ready for negative deposit rates and noted downside risks to the economy.

A negative deposit rate would penalize banks for hoarding cash and could drive money out of the euro zone.

"Putting the deposit rate into negative territory comes at a significant cost, undermining especially money market fund flows into weaker peripheral banks," Morgan Stanley said in note.

"Bearing these costs in mind and Draghi showing his readiness to use the negative deposit rate anyway is one of the clearest indications that the ECB wants a weak exchange rate."

ECB policymakers on Friday played down prospects of the bank cutting its deposit rate below zero any time soon, saying it was just one of several possible treatments for the sickly euro zone economy.

Ewald Nowotny, a member of the central bank's policy-making Governing Council, said the possibility of negative deposit rates was part of "open-minded" ECB policy discussions, but "not something that will lead to a short-term result."

Against the yen, the euro rallied 1.54 percent to 129.90 yen, its best one-day gain since April 16.

The dollar's losses against the euro helped drag it lower on an index basis, with the dollar index last trading at 82.10, down 0.43 percent on the day .DXY.

For the week, the euro rose 0.66 percent against the greenback. Against the yen, the U.S. dollar climbed 1 percent.

(Additional reporting by Nick Olivari and Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler)

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