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Dollar firms after robust US jobs report backs rate hike

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A strong US jobs report flashed a green light Friday for the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates this month, pushing the dollar up from its sell-off the previous day.

[NEW YORK] A strong US jobs report flashed a green light Friday for the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates this month, pushing the dollar up from its sell-off the previous day.

Analysts said that the Labour Department's report of solid jobs growth of 211,000 payrolls in November signaled the US economy was strong enough to weather the first US rate hike in more than nine years.

"The dollar closed out a wild week with fewer losses as strong US jobs data cleared the final hurdle to a Fed rate hike," said Joe Manimbo at Western Union Business Solutions.

The greenback climbed to US$1.0874 per euro around 2200 GMT, from US$1.0947 at the same time Thursday. The dollar bought 123.16 yen, up 0.4 per cent.

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Market expectations firmed for the Fed to raise the federal funds rate at its December 15-16 meeting. The benchmark rate has been pegged at zero since December 2008 to underpin the recovery from the Great Recession.

Still, the jobs report showed US wage growth remains subdued, one of the signs of slack in the jobs market the Fed is watching before moving to raise the rate.

"The slowdown in average hourly earnings may push the Federal Open Market Committee to implement a 'dovish rate hike' at the December 16 interest rate decision amid the disinflationary environment," said David Song, currency analyst at DailyFX.

The euro meanwhile lost some of its Thursday gains that came after the European Central Bank's new stimulus initiatives disappointed investors who had expected more firepower.

On Friday, ECB President Mario Draghi appeared to be stumping to counter criticism, insisting the central bank would increase efforts to support the eurozone economy if conditions did not improve.

"There is no doubt that if we had to intensify the use of our instruments to ensure that we achieve our price stability mandate, we would," he said in a speech at the Economic Club of New York.

AFP

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