Dollar extends gains as strong jobs data raises rate-hike hopes

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The U.S. dollar extended gains against a basket of currencies on Monday after a stronger-than-anticipated jobs report for July on Friday raised expectations that the Federal Reserve is closer to raising interest rates.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 255,000 jobs in July, more than the Reuters forecast of 180,000 for the month, and wages picked up, with hiring broadly based across the sectors of the economy.

The data helped offset concerns about sluggish economic indicators, including preliminary estimates of weak gross domestic product for the second quarter, released in late July.

"We're seeing the aftermath of the (payrolls) last week," said Mark McCormick, North American head of FX strategy at TD Securities in Toronto.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, gained 0.19 percent to 96.38. The dollar was up 0.57 percent against the Japanese at 102.41.

Trading this week is expected to be relatively light, with many traders and investors on summer vacations. Friday's retail sales report for July will be the next major U.S. economic focus.

A speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen at the central bank's symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Aug. 26 will also be watched closely for any new indications on when an interest rate increase may be likely.

Most economists and investors see a U.S. rate hike as most likely in December and believe the Fed will be hesitant to act before the U.S. presidential election in November.

"(Payrolls) supported the growth outlook on the U.S. side but doesn't really move the needle that much on a September rate hike," said McCormick.

The Fed stands apart from central banks from Japan to Europe, which have been easing as they attempt to stimulate growth and stave off deflation.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is likely to be the next central bank to ease conditions on Thursday, when it is expected to cut rates by 25 basis points to 2.00 percent.

The kiwi was last up 0.05 percent against the U.S. dollar on Monday at $0.71.