Australian dollar grabs spotlight in Asian session, rallies on jobs

The Australian dollar grabbed the spotlight early on Thursday as it rallied after a much stronger-than-expected employment report from down under.

The Aussie surged three-quarters of a U.S. cent to $0.7155, and was last up 1.1 percent at $0.7136.

Employment in Australia jumped 58,600 last month, sending the jobless rate down to a five-month low of 5.9 percent and beating the market forecast for a 15,000 rise and a steady unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. The stronger jobs data reduce the chances of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

In other currencies, the U.S. dollar edged up against the Japanese yen to 122.90 yen, below this week’s 2-1/2-month high of 123.60, while the euro added about 0.1 percent to $1.0755, recovering from this week’s nearly seven-month low of $1.0674.

U.S. crude futures steadied in Asia after tumbling 3 percent yesterday on higher crude inventories. Oil futures were last up about 0.6 percent at $43.18 a barrel. Brent crude added 0.5 percent to $46.04 though was still not far from its lowest levels since August.

Looking ahead today, the only key data to focus on will be U.S. jobless claims. Other than data, key events to pay attention to will be various speeches by central bankers, starting with ECB President Mario Draghi this morning when he talks to the European Parliament, followed by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. She is due to deliver opening remarks at the Conference on Monetary Policy Implementation in the Post-Crisis Period in Washington DC.

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