By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar strengthened against major currencies on Friday after U.S. data showing employers hired more workers than expected in September, suggesting the Federal Reserve will likely stick to its aggressive tightening policy for now.
The dollar reversed early losses against the Japanese yen and was last up 0.2% at 145.42 yen. The dollar hit a 24-year peak of 145.90 yen last month, which had prompted an intervention by Japanese authorities to shore up the fragile yen.
The euro fell against the dollar, extending losses after the U.S. jobs report, and was last down 0.6% at $0.9735.
“Any sign of U.S. economic weakness will weigh heavily on the dollar, but it certainly didn’t come with nonfarm payrolls,” said Adam Button, chief currency analyst at ForexLive in Toronto.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 263,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said in its closely watched employment report. Data for August was unrevised to show 315,000 jobs added as previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 250,000 job gains, with estimates ranging from as low as 127,000 to as high as 375,000.
Overnight, a number of Fed officials reinforced the view that the central bank is nowhere near finished with raising rates as it seeks to tame inflation, and interest rates are expected to go up further.
U.S. inflation data, due next week, will be watched closely as well and could prove influential in setting investors’ expectations for the Fed, according to strategists.
The U.S. central bank, in an effort to tame inflation, has hiked its policy rate from near-zero at the beginning of this year to the current range of 3.00% to 3.25%, and last month signaled more large increases were on the way this year.
A U.S. dollar index which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies was last up 0.6% and hit its highest in a week. The index is up about 18% for the year so far.
Sterling was down 0.9% at $1.1060, having fallen 1.4% overnight. It jumped earlier this week, after the British government reversed a planned cut to the highest rate of income tax.
The dollar also gained against China’s offshore yuan Friday, and was last up 0.7% at 7.1313.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in London and Rae Wee in Singapore; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Ana Nicolaci da Costa, William Maclean, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)