Dollar gains as consumer sentiment bolsters case for Fed rate hike

The U.S. dollar notes
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The dollar moved higher against major currencies on Friday as U.S. consumer sentiment beat forecasts, gaining for the second straight month and further bolstering expectations the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates in December.

Even a U.S. retail sales report that fell short of expectations amid a surprise decline in automobile purchases did not deter the dollar. The 0.1 percent increase in month-over-month sales was enough to send the dollar higher against the euro, yen, pound and Swiss franc.

Reuters economists had predicted a 0.3 percent rise for retail sales.

High-flying US dollar and Fed
High-flying US dollar and Fed

"The takeaway here is that the market sees a high bar for the Fed not to raise rates next month and so, although today's numbers were underwhelming, it shouldn't keep the Fed from moving next month," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

The dollar jumped 0.6 percent against the euro to $1.0736, putting it on track to end the week barely higher against the euro zone currency.

Helping further push the dollar up against the single currency, data from Europe overnight continued to back the case for policy divergence between the Fed and European Central Bank. The euro zone economy grew by a quarterly rate of 0.3 percent in the June-September period, down from 0.4 percent the previous quarter.

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Germany, France and Italy, the euro zone's largest economies, all showed subdued growth, with only Spain growing at a notable rate.

The contrast in economic reports has analysts expecting the ECB to add further monetary easing in December just weeks before the Fed is expected to raise rates.

The dollar also rose on the day against the Japanese yen and British pound, up 0.15 percent and 0.25 percent respectively. The day's gains were not enough to reverse the weekly trend, however, as the greenback was on track to fall against both currencies for the week.

The dollar gained 0.68 percent against the Swiss franc on Friday, to 1.0076 francs. It was headed for a modest 0.3 percent weekly gain.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of world currencies, rose 0.44 percent to 99.08. The index is flat this week as profit-taking sent it lower earlier in the week.