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Dollar Gains On Strong Data

The U.S. dollar exhibited strength against most major currencies on Thursday, buoyed by encouraging data on jobless claims and producer prices.

The greenback's gains were also due to the euro's decline after the European Union officials granted a "flexible" six-month extension to the U.K. for withdrawing from the EU.

The U.S. dollar was up more than 0.2% at 97.16, slightly off a high of 97.29 it touched earlier.

The euro was down 0.18% at $1.1256, after having traded at $1.1289 earlier.

Against the pound sterling, the greenback was up 0.24%, at 1.3057, strengthening from a low of 1.3109.

The dollar gained against the safe haven Japanese yen as well, after having eased in the previous session. A dollar fetched 111.66 yen in late afternoon trade today, way up from 111.01 yen late Wednesday.

The dollar gained about 0.06% against Swiss franc, with the pair trading at 1.0033. The dollar/loonie was trading at 1.3376, giving a gain of over 0.4% to the greenback.

Data released by the Labor Department this morning showed jobless claims in the U.S. fell to their lowest level in five decades triggered the sell-off in gold futures.

The Labor Department's report said initial jobless claims fell to 196,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level of 204,000.

The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to rise to 211,000 from the 202,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Another report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed a spike in energy prices contributed to a bigger than expected increase in U.S. producer prices in the month of March.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand climbed by 0.6% in March after inching up by 0.1% in February. Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.3%.

The bigger than expected increase in producer prices came as energy prices skyrocketed by 5.6% in March following a 1.8% jump in February. Gasoline prices soared by 16%.

The report also showed a rebound in food prices, which rose by 0.3% in March after falling by 0.3% in the previous month.

Compared to the same month a year ago, producer prices were up by 2.2% in March, reflecting an acceleration from the 1.9% increase in February.

In economic news from Europe, house price inflation in eurozone slowed in the fourth quarter of 2018 after remaining unchanged in the previous three months, preliminary data from Eurostat showed.

Final data from INSEE confirmed that France's consumer price inflation slowed to its weakest level in 17 months in March, coming in at 1.1%, compared to 1.3% in February.

Germany's consumer price inflation slowed in March, as initially expected, latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office showed.

The consumer price index rose 1.3% year-on-year following a 1.5% climb in February. That was in line with the flash estimate.

In Brexit news, the European Union has extended the deadline for Brexit to October 31, 2019. The extension has helped avert the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on April 12.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has defended her decision to delay the UK's exit from the EU. May said if the deal agreed with the EU was passed, the UK could leave the EU "as soon as possible".

But then, the UK must hold European Parliament elections in May, or face the prospects of leaving the EU without a deal on June 1.

According to reports, May and Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn had a short meeting today.

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