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Dollar Slips Again Against Most Major Rivals

After rebounding from four successive days of declines and exhibiting strength on Thursday, the U.S. dollar turned weak against most major currencies on Friday, as traders reacted to a mixed batch of economic data.

The dollar index dropped to a low of 96.49, and despite recovering to 96.58, was still trailing its previous close by about 0.15%.

In economic news from the U.S. today, a report released by the Federal Reserve showed industrial production in the U.S. rose by much less than expected in the month of February, inching up by just 0.1%, after falling by a revised 0.4% in January.

Economists had expected production to climb by 0.4% compared to the 0.6% drop originally reported for the previous month.

Utilities output jumped 3.7% in the month, after a 0.9% slump in January and a 5.2% drop in December.

Mining output was up 0.3% in February, while manufacturing output declined 0.4% in the month.

"The further decline in manufacturing output in February confirms that the global industrial slowdown is now weighing more heavily on U.S. producers," said Andrew Hunter, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

He added, "With tighter fiscal and monetary policy constraining domestic demand, the weaker external environment is another reason to expect a sustained slowdown in economic growth this year."

Meanwhile, the Fed said capacity utilization for the industrial sector edged down to 78.2% in February from an upwardly revised 78.3% in January.

Economists had expected capacity utilization to tick up to 78.4% from the 78.2% originally reported for the previous month.

According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, growth in New York manufacturing activity unexpectedly slowed in the month of March.

The New York Fed said its headline general business conditions index fell to 3.7 in March after climbing to 8.8 in February. While a positive reading still indicates growth in regional manufacturing activity, economists had expected the index to rise to 10.0.

Meanwhile, preliminary data released by the University of Michigan on Friday showed a significant improvement in U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of March.

The report said the consumer sentiment index jumped to 97.8 in March from the final February reading of 93.8. Economists had expected the index to rise to 95.3.

The bigger than expected increase by the index came as more positive assessments from lower income households more than offset a drop in sentiment among households with incomes in the top third.

The British Pound gained more than 0.35% against the U.S. dollar, rising to 1.3286. The currency, which soared to a nine-month peak, gained about 2% against the greenback in the week. Easing worries about Brexit after the Parliament voted out a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday and voted in favour of a motion to extend the March 29 deadline for Brexit, lifted Pound Sterling during the later part of the week.

The dollar eased against the Euro, losing about 0.11% and shed 0.18% against the Japanese Yen.

Australian dollar and Swiss Franc were up as well against the greenback, while the Canadian loonie was doen by about 0.1% against the U.S. currency.

On U.S.-China trade front, optimism about progress in trade talks increased on reports Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had telephonic conversations with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

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