(Corrects to show euro high of 1.1909, not 1.909)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEWYORK – The dollar weakened further against a basket of major currencies on Friday after a much softer than expected U.S. payrolls report that is likely to keep the Federal Reserve on hold in scaling back its massive stimulus measures.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 in August, well short of the 728,000 forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, while the unemployment rate dipped to 5.2% from 5.4% in the prior month.
The dollar index dropped to a low of 91.941, its lowest level since Aug. 4, and was last down 0.102% at 92.133.
The dollar has been subdued on uncertainty over the path of Fed policy. Fed chair Jerome Powell said last Friday that while tapering of its stimulus could begin this year if job growth continues, the central bank was in no hurry to do so.
Rising COVID-19 cases in recent weeks have brought on concerns the economic recovery could stall. The jobs data will likely keep the Fed on hold.
“It’s the ultimate air cover, this is true air cover, they don’t have to do anything for a while,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
“There is absolutely no reason for (Powell) to do anything with this except to say I told you so, and it certainly makes the September meeting a lot less climactic.”
The euro strengthened against the greenback following the report, touching a high of 1.1909 to match its best level since July 30.
The single currency has been supported by data earlier this week that showed regional inflation at a decade high and hawkish comments from European Central Bank officials ahead of a policy meeting on Sept. 9.
The euro was last up 0.08% at $1.1882.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.15% versus the greenback to 109.76 per dollar, gaining ground after the jobs data, but showed little reaction to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s decision to step down at the end of the month.