Forex Review – Yen extends gains; USD holds onto gains after US jobless claims

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The euro trimmed losses against the dollar in the U.S. trading session, bouncing slightly after a sharp fall earlier in the European session when disappointing PMI data from Europe caused a selloff.  German manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in March, while business activity in the euro zone as a whole shrank.EURUSD bounced from 1.3132 to 1.3201.

The yen gained strength against the dollar and the euro due to safe haven demand amid growing concerns over global growth after weak PMI data from China and Europe today. Meanwhile, the yen was given an added boost after Japanese data showed the economy swung back to a surprise trade surplus in February, a reversal after a deficit reported for January.USDJPY fell to 82.31 from 83.17. EURJPY dropped to 108.47 compared to the European high of 110.45.

The growth-sensitive Australian dollar was slammed by the weak Chinese PMI data, causing investors to fret over economic growth. China is a major export partner for Australia. AUDUSD extended its slide in New York trading down to a low of 1.0335, declining since the early Asian session high of  1.0482.

The Canadian dollar dropped against its US counterpart, marking a third day of losses. Weak Canadian retail sales further hurt the loonie today. The report showed January retail sales grew at less than a third of the rate that was expected. USDCAD jumped to a two-week high of 1.0006. The greenback gained momentum after U.S. jobless claims data came in much more positive than forecast, showing a drop in claims from the week before, and still close to a four year low, indicating the US labour market is picking up.

Cable  was trading lower overall today after sterling dropped sharply following  poor U.K. retail sales data. GBPUSD touched lows of 1.5769 in European hours and retraced slightly in New York trading on profit-taking.