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Dollar gets lift from strong US retail data, yen decline

The dollar rallied on Friday, helped by unexpectedly strong U.S. retail sales data and a slide in the yen to seven-year lows against the dollar on bets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will call early elections and delay a sales tax increase.

The euro also fell against the dollar and briefly dipped below $1.24 despite better-than-expected euro zone economic growth numbers. The currency, which traded near $1.40 in May, is now close to two-year lows and was last off 0.55 percent above $1.24.

The dollar index added to gains after a U.S. retail sales report bolstered views of a strengthening U.S. economy.

The index was last ahead 0.60 percent after touching 88.267, a high last seen in June 2010, according to Reuters data.

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The U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.5 percent last month when stripping out volatile elements such as gasoline and food services. That was the biggest increase since August and ahead of forecasts for a 0.4 percent gain.

Japan's yen was already down in overseas trading and touched a fresh seven-year low below 117 yen to the dollar immediately after the release of the U.S. data. It was last above 116, or off 0.75 percent for the session.

The yen has taken only a month to notch up a 10 percent drop, hit by a rallying dollar, a reallocation of Japan's government pension holdings away from domestic assets, the expansion of a stimulus program, and now a likely delay in raising the country's sales tax.

The first increase in the two-stage sales tax hike, which came in April, sent the economy into a slump. Japanese companies overwhelmingly want the next stage to be postponed or scrapped, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

Data showed the euro zone expanding by 0.2 percent in the third quarter, compared with the previous three months, with Germany just managing to avoid a recession.

—By Reuters

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