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Dollar Flat Amid Mixed U.S. Retail Sales, Sterling Strength

3/12/2019, 2:44:15 PMMarket Analysis
Dollar Flat Amid Mixed U.S. Retail Sales, Sterling Strength

The dollar was roughly unchanged against its rivals Monday as investors digested mixed U.S. retail sales data showing an unexpected rise in January, but a downward revision to December's sharp decline, while a sharp rise in the pound also weighed.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell 0.04% to 97.24.

The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2% in January, compared with a downwardly revised 1.6% in December. That was above expectations for retail sales to remain flat.

The retail sales control group – which has a larger impact on U.S. GDP – rose 1.1%, above expectations for a 0.6% rise.

Retail sales managed only a "tepid reversal" in January from December's unexpected slump, BMO said.

"While we expect some further comeback in the next couple months, the big story is that the economy's big engine is cooling --- we look for spending to churn out average real gains of little better than 2% in the four quarters of 2019, compared with consistent gains above 2.5% in the past three years."

A surge in the pound, meanwhile, limited gains in the greenback after German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker had made a "very important" offer to the U.K. to break the deadlock in Brexit talks.

Ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to travel to Strasbourg later Monday to try to finalize an agreement, according to U.K. media reports.

The news comes just a day ahead of the vote on May's withdrawal deal, which suffered a large defeat in the U.K. parliament in January.

GBP/USD rose 0.89% to $1.3131, while EUR/USD fell 0.04% to $1.1232.

USD/JPY rose 0.02% to Y111.18 as risk-on sentiment in global markets eased demand for the safe-haven yen.

USD/CAD rose 0.04% to C$1.3417 as the loonie was underpinned by a rise in oil prices amid reports Saudi Arabia will extend crude output cuts into April to avert a glut in global supplies.