Surge in US retail sales and consumer confidence boost dollar

The US dollar gained a lift from upbeat US data released on Friday.

US retail sales increased by 1.3 per cent in April, while US consumer confidence jumped to an 11-month high in May, according to the University of Michigan survey.

The robust data raised hopes for a second quarter rebound in the US economy. This will further raise expectations of the Fed hiking interest rates again in coming months.

Retail sales smashed expectations in April as numbers surged 1.3%, rebounding from a 0.3% decline in March. Core sales were up 0.8%. Economists expected a 0.8% sales upturn, with a 0.5% rise in core sales.

After economic growth slowed to an annualized rate of just 0.5% in the first quarter, analysts have been looking for signs that the slowdown will prove temporary. But gloom has descended after non-farm payrolls rose much less than anticipated in April, a 160,000 rise contrasting with the consensus of a 202,000 increase.

However, the retail sales data may indicate that concerns over the demise of the American consumer have been greatly exaggerated.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for May rose to its highest level since June 2015.

The preliminary reading registered at 95.8, compared with a final April reading of 89.0. Economists had expected the May index would hold steady at 89.0.

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