Dollar takes a breather amid mixed virus news, ahead of US data

The market mood is cautiously optimistic and the safe-haven dollar is retreating from its highs. Vaccine news remains worrying in Europe and mixed in the US. The Suez Canal will likely be blocked for longer. After US jobless claims beat estimates, fresh figures are of interest.

The US dollar is off its highs, allowing EUR/USD to advance toward 1.18 while GBP/USD is extending its recovery above 1.3750. USD/JPY is changing hands above 109, another sign that the risk-off mood has subsided.

One of the reasons for a better mood comes from the fall of US jobless claims to 684,000 in the week ending March 19, the lowest in the pandemic era.

US President Joe Biden has pledged to ramp up vaccinations and aims to reach 200 million doses in his first 100 days in office. On the other hand, COVID-19 infections have begun rising in the world’s largest economy, causing fresh concerns.

European covid cases continue rising in most countries as the old continent continues grappling with a sluggish immunization campaign. EU leaders agreed on a mechanism that allows banning exports of jabs but vowed to use it cautiously amid concerns about supply chain disruptions.

The Suez Canal may remain blocked for another week according to specialists attempting to refloat Ever Given, the mega-ship wedged sideways in one of the world’s most critical waterways. Several shipping companies announced they will divert travel around Africa, causing delays and rising costs. WTI Crude Oil has risen toward $60.

The German IFO Business Climate is set to show improving business sentiment as the old continent’s industry remains robust despite the lockdown. UK Retail Sales figures for February are forecast to rise after tumbling by 8.2% in January.

Economists expect US Personal Income to plunge after jumping by 10% in January due to stimulus checks. Personal Spending is also set to decline while the University of Michigan’s final Consumer Sentiment gauge is likely to be upgraded.

Core PCE, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation, will likely remain well below 2%, ahead of potential gains next week.

Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin is trading around $53,000, consolidating its losses seen earlier in the week. Other cryptocurrencies are on the rise, with Ripple’s XRP recapturing the $0.50 level.

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