The dollar is currently giving back some of its early gains against its major competitors Thursday. The early gains were driven by the prepared remarks from Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, which were released late Wednesday.
Janet Yellen, President Obama’s choice to lead the Federal Reserve when Chairman Ben Bernanke steps down in January, faced a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday morning.
Yellen, currently serving as Vice Chairman of the central bank, defended the ultra-easy monetary policy that has seen the Fed’s balance sheet more than quadruple to nearly $4 trillion since 2008.
“Under the wise and skillful leadership of Chairman Bernanke, the Fed helped stabilize the financial system, arrest the steep fall in the economy, and restart growth,” Yellen told the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
“We have made good progress, but we have farther to go to regain the ground lost in the crisis and the recession,” she added.
Gains in manufacturing and housing have helped drive modest economic growth this year, but Yellen warned that unemployment remains too high for the Fed to consider significantly scaling back its $85 billion a month in asset purchases.
While the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended November 9th, claims still came in above economist estimates. The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 339,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 341,000.
Economists had been expecting jobless claims to fall to 330,000 from the 336,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the value of imports rising and the value of exports falling, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing that the U.S. trade deficit widened by much more than expected in the month of September.
The report said the trade deficit widened to $41.8 billion in September from a revised $38.7 billion in August. Economists had expected the deficit to widen to $39.1 billion.
Labor productivity in the U.S. rose by less than expected in the third quarter, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, although the report also showed a bigger than expected decrease in unit labor costs.
The report said productivity increased by 1.9 percent in the third quarter compared to the 1.8 percent growth seen in the second quarter. Economists had expected productivity to jump by about 2.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said unit labor costs fell by 0.6 percent in the third quarter, offsetting the 0.5 percent increase seen in the second quarter. Labor costs had been expected to dip by 0.3 percent.
The dollar rose to an early high of $1.3417 against the Euro on Thursday, but has since retreated to around $1.3475.
The Eurozone economy managed to expand in the third quarter, flash estimates from Eurostat showed Thursday. Gross domestic product was up 0.1 percent, down from the 0.3 percent quarterly growth posted in the preceding three months. This was the second consecutive expansion and matched economists’ expectations.
The German economy grew 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, matching economists’ expectation, official data showed Thursday. However, economic growth decelerated from the 0.7 percent expansion seen in the second quarter, Destatis said.
The French economy shrank 0.1 percent in the third quarter from a quarter ago, preliminary results released by the statistical office Insee showed Thursday. Economists were expecting gross domestic product to remain flat, following the second quarter’s 0.5 percent rebound.
The greenback climbed to an early high of $1.5988 against the pound sterling Thursday, but has since dropped to a 4-session low of $1.6100.
U.K. retail sales volume dropped 0.7 percent month-on-month in October due to a notable 1.3 percent fall in non-food store sales, the Office for National Statistics said Thursday. The drop in sales volume follows a 0.6 percent rise in September. It was forecast to remain flat in October.
Japan’s Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Thursday that the economy is likely to witness stronger recovery ahead helped by robust domestic demand.
Domestic demand remains firms and the economy is on an upward path, Amari reportedly said. The minister expects exports to recover in the current quarter, after a decline in the three months to September.
The expectation of export rebound is based on economic recovery in the U.S. and a clearer picture regarding the Chinese economy.
The buck increased to a 2-month high of Y100.133 against the Japanese Yen on Thursday, from yesterday’s low of Y99.095.
Japan’s gross domestic product added 0.5 percent in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the previous three months, the Cabinet Office said in Thursday’s preliminary reading. That beat forecasts for an increase of 0.4 percent, although it slowed from the 0.9 percent gain in the second quarter.
Japan’s industrial output grew only 1.3 percent in September from August, according to final estimate published by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Thursday. The preliminary data showed a 1.5 percent rise in production. Further, the growth in shipments was lowered to 1.5 percent from 1.6 percent.
A leading indicator of the Japanese economy increased notably in September, data from a survey conducted by the Conference Board showed Thursday. The leading economic index advanced 1.2 percent month-on-month to 100.1 in September. This followed a 0.1 percent decline in August and a 0.3 percent gain in July.