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Dollar Hits 2009 High Versus Yen as U.S. Jobs Gain Tops Forecast

March 8, 2013

March 8 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar gained versus the yen to the highest level since 2009 as U.S. employers added more jobs than forecast last month, boosting optimism the economy is withstanding higher taxes and lower government spending.

The U.S. currency rallied against most of its major peers after the Labor Department reported the nation’s jobless rate unexpectedly fell to a four-year low of 7.7 percent. The greenback rose against its European counterpart as the improving employment data contrasts with the euro-area’s record 11.9 percent unemployment rate in January. The yen dropped against all its 16 major counterparts as a government report showed Japan’s current-account deficit widened in January.

"We’re starting to see a growing list of economic indicators suggesting that there’s a broad-based recovery taking place," Omer Esiner, chief market analyst in Washington at the currency brokerage Commonwealth Foreign Exchange Inc., said in a telephone interview. "The market is now focusing on the notion that the U.S. recovery is gaining steam, while other major economies remain in a state of economic stagnation and contraction in many cases."

The dollar rose 1.1 percent to 95.90 per yen at 3:20 p.m. in New York, reaching the highest level since Aug. 12, 2009. It gained 0.7 percent to $1.3011 per euro. The 17-nation currency added 0.4 percent to 124.77 per yen.

Rand, Krona

South Africa’s rand increased versus the greenback for the first time in three days after Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus said the currency may strengthen as its decline beyond 9 to the dollar is overdone. It rose 0.6 percent to 9.0888 per dollar after increasing 0.7 percent, the most since Feb. 26.

Sweden’s krona fell the most in two weeks against the euro after Finance Minister Anders Borg said he’s unsure if the krona’s strength will last and that there may be "exaggerated confidence" in the currency. It weakened as much as 0.4 percent against the shared currency to 8.3261, the steepest retreat since Feb. 21, before trading at 8.3139.

The krona has gained 5 percent in this year, making it the best performer of 10 developed-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes. The dollar increased 3.3 percent, the euro climbed 1.6 percent and the yen depreciated 7.5 percent.

Dollar Measure

The Dollar Index, which Intercontinental Exchange Inc. uses to track the greenback against the currencies of six major U.S. trading partners, reached its highest level since Aug. 3 as employment rose 236,000 last month after a revised 119,000 gain in January that was smaller than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington.

The dollar is "holding its own at a time when equities are doing quite well and risk appetite is firming," Richard Franulovich, senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in New York, said in telephone interview. "It’s a potentially momentous correlation shift, whereby the dollar is now a growth currency."

The median forecast of 90 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected an advance of 165,000. The jobless rate dropped from 7.9 percent. The Dollar Index increased 0.8 percent to 82.702.

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