By John McCrank
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar ticked up against a basket of rival currencies in holiday-thinned trading on Thursday as a dip in weekly jobless claims data helped ease fears that a surge of COVID-19 infections would curb the economic recovery.
New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell in the week leading up to Christmas and benefits rolls slid to their lowest level of the pandemic era the week earlier, data showed, signaling no impact yet on employment from the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
The better-than-expected report helped lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average to an all-time high on Thursday, extending the blue-chip index’s record-setting run.
The dip in jobless claims came even as COVID-19 infections in the United States hit a record high for the second day running, Reuters data showed.
“The market is blasé about many of the risks emanating from Omicron right now in terms of growth and the supply chain,” said Adam Button, chief currency analyst at ForexLive.
Low holiday trading volumes also meant that moves in the market were likely exaggerated, he added.
“By and large, the end of the year is dominated by flows, not fundamentals,” he said.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against major peers, was up 0.291% at 96.104, after having been negative in the overnight session. [.N]
“There’s definitely cautious optimism around, though the dollar is mostly just recovering the ground it lost yesterday afternoon,” said Kit Juckes, head of FX strategy at Societe Generale in London.
That optimism could be seen in the dollar pulling away from the safe-haven Japanese yen, he said.
The yen touched 115.205 per dollar, its weakest in a month and not too far from its November trough of 115.51.
The euro was down 0.29% at $1.13145 after touching a one-month high on Wednesday.
Sterling dipped 0.03% to $1.3484.
The Turkish lira continued to slide and was down 5.6% at about 13.1 per dollar, after having fallen 6.9% on Wednesday.
Bitcoin steadied after two days of losses. The world’s largest cryptocurrency was last up 0.92% at $47,662, well off its all-time high of around $69,000 in November.
(Reporting by John McCrank in New York; additional reporting by Julien Ponthus in London; Editing by Nick Macfie)