The US dollar retreated against most major currencies Friday after a report showed U.S. employers hired fewer workers than forecast in December, which fueled speculations that the Federal Reserve may slow its pace of tapering bond buying program.
The U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years, but the unemployment rate fell from 7 in November to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Despite the further decrease in the jobless rate, the jobs growth was much weaker than economists' expectations for about 200, 000 new jobs. "All bets are now off on the Fed's tapering plans. Many are now questioning whether it began to turn off the QE taps too soon," said Marcus Bullus, trading director at MB Capital. "The unemployment rate has fallen to just 6.7 percent, but this is a meaningless victory after the participation rate slumped to its lowest level for an extraordinary 35 years."
The greenback weakened against the euro for the second day after the European Central Bank (ECB) left its benchmark interest rate unchanged.
The ECB decided to keep its key interest rate unchanged after a monetary policy meeting Thursday, but reaffirmed its accommodative monetary policy "for as long as necessary, which will assist the gradual economic recovery" in the area.
The minutes of Fed's December meeting showed policymakers saw diminishing economic benefits from the quantitative easing and expressed concern about financial risks, and the dollar was lifted to a month high against the euro after the minutes was published Wednesday.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3660 dollars from 1.3590 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound increased to 1.6472 dollars from 1.6470 dollars. The Australian dollar climbed to 0.8995 U.S. dollar from 0.8888 dollar.
The dollar bought 104.06 yen, lower than 104.77 yen of the previous session. The greenback moved down to 0.9034 Swiss francs from 0.9083, and went up to 1.0895 Canadian dollars from 1.0866.