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Dollar Little Changed As Traders Focus On Jackson Hole Meeting

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The dollar is up slightly against the Japanese Yen Thursday, but is little changed against its major European rivals. Investors continue to exercise caution ahead of the Federal Reserve's Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming today.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi are both scheduled to speak at the conference on Friday.

Meanwhile, U.S. economic data proved mixed this morning. A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed a modest uptick in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended August 19th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 234,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 232,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 238,000.

Existing home sales in the U.S. unexpectedly decreased in the month of July, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Thursday. NAR said existing home sales fell by 1.3 percent to an annual rate of 5.44 million in July after tumbling by 2 percent to a downwardly revised 5.51 million in June.

The continued decrease surprised economists, who had expected existing home sales to climb to an annual rate of 5.57 million in July from the 5.52 million originally reported for the previous month.

The dollar reached an early high of $1.1783 against the Euro Thursday, but has since eased back to around $1.18.

French manufacturing confidence strengthened in August to the highest level since late 2007, survey results from the statistical office Insee showed Thursday.

The manufacturing sentiment index improved to 111 in August from revised 108 in July. This was the highest score since December 2007. Economists had forecast the index to fall to 108 in August from July's initially estimated value of 109.

The buck fell to a low of $1.2836 against the pound sterling Thursday, but has since bounced back to around $1.28.

The UK economy expanded as initially estimated in the second quarter, the second estimate from the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday.

Gross domestic product increased 0.3 percent sequentially in the second quarter, unrevised from the preliminary estimate. The latest pace of growth was slightly faster than the 0.2 percent expansion posted in the first quarter.

British retailers reported the biggest fall in retail sales since July 2016 and orders placed on suppliers declined considerably from the previous year in August, Distributive Trades Survey from the Confederation of British Industry showed Thursday.

The retail sales balance plunged to -10 percent in August from +22 percent in July. The balance was forecast to drop moderately to +16 percent. The latest score was the lowest since July 2016.

UK mortgage approvals increased to a five-month high in July, data published by the UK Finance showed Thursday. The number of mortgage approvals rose to 41,587 in July from 40,385 in June. Approvals increased by 9 percent from July 2016, when the market was markedly subdued after the EU referendum.

The greenback has risen to around Y109.360 against the Japanese Yen Thursday, from an early low of Y108.897.

Japan's leading index improved less than initially estimated in June, latest figures from the Cabinet Office showed Thursday. The leading index, which measures the future economic activity, climbed to 105.9 in June from 104.7 in May. The reading for June was revised down from 106.3.

by RTT Staff Writer

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