The dollar is gaining ground against all of its major rivals Friday afternoon. Encouraging housing starts, building permits and import prices reports underscored expectations that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in March.
Import prices in the U.S. jumped by more than expected in the month of January, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday, while export price growth also exceeded estimates. The Labor Department said import prices surged up by 1.0 percent in January after edging up by a revised 0.2 percent in December.
Economists had expected import prices to climb by 0.6 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.
The report also said export prices increased by 0.8 percent in January after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in December. Export prices had been expected to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.1 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
After reporting a steep drop in new residential construction in the previous month, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing housing starts in the U.S. rebounded by much more than anticipated in the month of January.
The Commerce Department said housing starts soared by 9.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.326 million in January after tumbling by 6.9 percent to a revised 1.209 million in December. Economists had expected housing starts to climb by 3.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.234 million from the 1.192 million originally reported for the previous month.
Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, also surged up by 7.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.396 million in January from the revised December rate of 1.300 million.
Despite recent volatility on Wall Street, the University of Michigan released a report on Friday unexpectedly showing a significant improvement in U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of February. The preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for February came in at 99.9, up from the final January reading of 95.7. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 95.5.
The dollar fell to low of $1.2553 against the Euro Friday morning, but has since rebounded to around $1.2415.
Germany’s wholesale price inflation accelerated slightly in January, after easing in the previous three months, data from Destatis showed Friday. Wholesale prices climbed 2.0 percent year-over-year in January, faster than the 1.8 percent rise in December.
The buck slipped to an early low of $1.4144 against the pound sterling Friday, but has since bounced back to around $1.4015.
UK retail sales grew less than expected in January as high inflation squeezed consumer spending, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed Friday. Retail sales rose 0.1 percent month-on-month in January, reversing a 1.4 percent drop in December. Nonetheless, this was slower than the expected 0.5 percent rise.
The greenback dipped to a low of Y105.541 against the Japanese Yen Friday morning, but has since risen to around Y106.260.