Dollar mixed after dismal jobs report

Greenback rises against yen and Canadian dollar, but eases versus euro and is flat against the pound after government reports worse-than-expected job loss of 598,000.

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By David Goldman, staff writer

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NEW YORK ( -- The dollar fell against the 15-nation euro and British pound, but rose against the Japanese yen Friday, after a U.S. government report showed the economy shed more than half a million jobs for an unprecedented third month in a row.

The Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate rose to 7.6% and a net 598,000 jobs were lost in January, the highest monthly job loss since December 1974.

Still, the dollar did not budge much after the report's release. The awful statistic was largely expected, even though the report came in about 60,000 worse than economists forecast. Similarly, last month, the report showed 1,000 fewer job cuts than economists predicted, and the dollar held right around the breakeven mark for that day.

"There's nothing really astounding about the dollar's movement today, in relative terms," said Dan Bridiescas, currency strategist with Wells Fargo. "The headline number was higher, and the revisions are troubling, but we've seen much larger movements than this recently."

The euro rose to $1.2942, up 1.2% from $1.2791 late Thursday. The euro was even with the dollar just before the report was released.

The euro lost some ground Thursday after the European Central Bank decided to hold its key interest rate steady.

The pound also rose against the dollar, buying $1.4809, up 1.36% from $1.4611. The pound gained strongly Thursday after the Bank of England decided to cut rates to historic lows.

The dollar rose against the yen, at ¥91.98, up 0.8% from ¥91.24 late Thursday. The yen also traded even with the dollar prior to the release of the Labor Department's report.

Bridiescas said traders were waiting to hear how much the job report differed from expectations before they made significant moves to buy or sell currencies.

"Going into a day like today, everything quiets down before the numbers are released," he said. "Then, people have pent-up needs to sell or buy a position back."

During the session, the U.S. dollar rocketed as high as $1.2541 against the Canadian dollar after the Canadian economy shed a much-worse-than-expected 129,000 jobs in January, representing the worst month of job loss in that nation's history. Unemployment north of the U.S. border rose to 7.2% from 6.6% in December.

The surge later subsided, and the dollar was trading down 0.75% to $1.223 Canadian by late afternoon. To top of page

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