The pound closed in New York last night at 1.5057 against the dollar, after the rate had been pushed higher, extending its recovery after UK retail sales data and the general dollar sell off. The Office for National Statistics earlier said that U.K. retail sales fell 0.5% last month, compared to expectations for a 0.4% rise. Year-on-year, U.K. retail sales rose 4.2% in March, disappointing expectations for a 5.4% gain. Core retail sales, which exclude automobiles and fuel, ticked up 0.2% last month, less than the expected 0.4% increase.
The single currency showed little reaction to a report by market research group Markit saying that the euro zone’s composite purchasing managers’ index, which includes manufacturing and services activity, fell to 53.5 this month from 54.0 in March, compared to expectations for a rise to 54.4. Germany’s manufacturing PMI ticked down to 54.2 this month from a reading of 55.4 in March, while the services PMI slipped to 54.4 in April from 55.4 the previous month. Markit also said that France’s manufacturing PMI fell to 48.4 this month from 48.8 in March, while the services PMI slipped to 50.8 in April from a reading of 52.4 the previous month. Earlier Thursday, another report showed that Spain’s unemployment rate rose to 23.8% in the first quarter from 23.7% in the three months to December. Analysts had expected the unemployment rate to slip to 23.6% in the last quarter.
The dollar turned broadly lower against a basket of other major currencies on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week and that U.S. new home sales dropped far more than expected in March. The dollar came under pressure after the U.S. Department of Labour said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending April 18 increased by 1,000 to 295,000 from the previous week’s total of 294,000. Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to fall by 4,000 to 290,000 last week. Data also showed that U.S. new home sales dropped 11.4% last month to 481,000 units after a revised 5.6% increase to 541,000 in February. Analysts had expected new home sales to fall 5.3% to 513,000 units in March. The US Dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.60% to 97.66.