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The yen gained versus all of its major counterparts as investors sought safety after U.S. payrolls increased less than forecast in April and before elections in Europe that may result in leadership changes. France and Greece hold elections this weekend, with French voters casting ballots in the final round of the country’s presidential race and Greeks set to decide on a new parliament.
The euro fell for a fifth day versus the dollar, the longest stretch since September, as France and Greece prepared for elections May 6, spurring bets their commitment to austerity may flag. While the U.S. jobless rate fell to a three-year low, employers added the fewest jobs in six months, fueling concern the U.S. economic recovery is faltering and damping demand for assets linked to growth, such as Australia’s dollar. Nonfarm payrolls added 115,000 jobs, after a revised increase of 154,000 in March that was more than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate was for a 160,000 rise. The unemployment rate fell 8.1 percent, from 8.2 percent. A euro-area composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in services and manufacturing dropped to 46.7 from 49.1 in March, London-based Markit Economics said. That’s below an initial estimate of 47.4 on April 23. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
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