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US dollar gets short-lived bounce from jobs report

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The dollar was little-changed Friday after a short-lived gain from a solid US labour report that showed strong jobs growth but tepid wage gains in December.

[NEW YORK] The dollar was little-changed Friday after a short-lived gain from a solid US labour report that showed strong jobs growth but tepid wage gains in December.

The greenback initially rose after the Labor Department reported employers added 292,000 positions last month, widely beating expectations and taking the full year total to 2.65 million, the second-biggest annual gain after 2014 since the 1990s.

But the scant improvement in wage gains waved a red flag at the close of a week marked by market volatility on concerns about global growth, China's slowdown and falling oil prices.

By 2200 GMT, the dollar had barely budged against the euro, at US$1.0922, compared with US$1.0928 at the same time Thursday. It also was relatively flat against the Japanese currency, at 117.26 yen.

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The Federal Reserve is monitoring wage growth, a sign of tightening in the labor market and inflationary pressures, as it steers its benchmark federal funds rate from near-zero, where it was pegged since 2008 to help the country exit severe recession.

Three weeks ago the Fed's raised the rate by 0.25 per cent and pledged a cautious approach in further increases dependent on incoming economic data.

"Flat wages in December will do little to suggest inflation is on the rise, a factor that could stay the Fed's hand in raising rates again anytime soon," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange.

The US central bank has signaled it could make four quarter-point increases in the federal funds rate this year, with some analysts expecting a hike in March.

Markets are more bearish, with many investors expecting only two increases.

"There's no doubt that the US labor market is improving but market volatility will determine whether the Federal Reserve raises interest rates in March," said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.

AFP

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