By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar weakened against major currencies on Friday after data showed U.S. employers hired fewer workers than forecast in November, backing the view that U.S. growth is moderating and the Federal Reserve may stop raising rates sooner than previously thought.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 155,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing by 200,000 jobs in November.
Average hourly earnings rose six cents, or 0.2 percent in November after gaining 0.1 percent in October. That left the annual increase in wages at 3.1 percent, matching October’s jump, which was the biggest gain since April 2009.
Fed policymakers are still widely expected to raise interest rates again at their Dec. 18-19 meeting, but the focus is on how many rate hikes will follow in 2019.
“This was slightly disappointing on the headline level, but wage growth coming in as expected keeps the Fed on track to raise rates in December,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.
“The overall effect has been a sell-off in the dollar, largely in a reaction to a lower expectation for rate hikes in 2019,” he said.
An index that tracks the greenback versus the euro, yen, sterling and three other currencies (DXY) was down 0.08 percent at 96.735.
Interest rate futures implied traders see no more than one rate increase in 2019, compared with expectations a month earlier for possibly two rate hikes, according to CME Group’s FedWatch program.