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The dollar fluctuated against major counterparts as the U.S. payrolls report showed employers added fewer jobs last month than economists forecast while the unemployment rate dropped.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 103,000 in December after a revised increase of 71,000 in the previous month, the Labor Department reported. The median forecast of 78 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a gain of 150,000. The unemployment rate slid to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the drop in unemployment is likely to be slow even with a pickup in U.S. growth, signaling no change in the central bank’s monetary stimulus.
“Maybe some of the enthusiasm for long-dollar exposure has been undercut,” said Alan Ruskin at Deutsche Bank AG. “The headline number was obviously much softer than expected.”
The U.S. currency has rallied since Dec. 14, when the Fed said the economic recovery is continuing and maintained a $600 billion program of debt purchases under the second round of quantitative easing. The dollar got a boost as President Barack Obama signed into law last month an extension of tax cuts.
The dollar will fall about 12% to $1.48 per euro and drop 7% to Y78 by the end of 2011 as the Fed keeps interest rates close to zero and the fiscal deficit stays near a record, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“U.S. growth alone cannot support the dollar as it’s highly unlikely that the Fed will be lifting interest rates in the next 12 months,” said John Normand, strategy at JPMorgan.
The euro was headed for a weekly drop of 3.1% against the dollar on speculation Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis will persist. The decrease in the euro would be the biggest since it fell 3.2% during the five days ended Nov. 26.
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said in text of an address today in Bavaria that governments shouldn’t rely on the ECB to get Europe out of its debt crisis and urged more efforts to tighten fiscal rules.
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