May 3, 2017 / 1:03 AM / 4 months ago

Dollar dips against euro as French politics offset U.S. jobs data

Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, pound and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration, January 21, 2016.Jason Lee/Illustration/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar hit its lowest level against the euro in roughly six months on Friday after a sharp rebound in U.S. jobs growth in April was not enough to offset investors' bullishness toward the euro ahead of the second round of France's presidential election.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls surged by 211,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, beating expectations of economists polled by Reuters for a gain of 185,000.

Payrolls growth in March was revised downward to 79,000 from 98,000, however, and the labor force participation rate dipped slightly to 62.9 percent from 63 percent.

Analysts said traders are anticipating that the euro will get a boost if, as expected, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron defeats anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday's French election.

They also said the weaker March jobs figure and labor force participation rate gave traders an excuse to continue holding the euro. The euro hit $1.0999, its highest level since early November, in the wake of the U.S. jobs data, and a comeback from a 14-year low of $1.0339 touched in early January.

A two Euro coin is pictured next to an English ten Pound note in an illustration taken March 16, 2016.Phil Noble/Illustration

“People were looking for a Macron victory, the end of event risk from the French election, for that to push us through $1.10," said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets. "There’s nothing in the payrolls data that is going to blow them out of the water from that."

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The dollar rose slightly against the yen and was last up 0.1 JPY= percent against the Japanese currency, at 112.60 yen, but remained below Thursday's roughly seven-week high of 113.04 yen.

Analysts said the dollar remained at elevated levels against the yen because the U.S. jobs data did little to challenge the view that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in June.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals but the majority of whose weighting is against the euro, was last down 0.1 percent at 98.655 after touching a roughly six-month low of 98.593 after the jobs data.

For the week, the index was set to fall 0.4 percent, for a fourth straight weekly decline. The euro was set to gain 0.8 percent against the dollar for the week, in a fourth straight weekly rise. Against the yen, the dollar was set to gain 1 percent for a third straight weekly rise.

Reporting by Sam Forgione; Additional reporting by Ritvik Carvalho in London; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Leslie Adler

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