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NEW YORK: The US dollar gained against a basket of currencies to its highest levels in 2-1/2 weeks on Friday after data showed that US job growth rebounded strongly in June.

Non-farm payrolls increased by 224,000 jobs last month, the most in five months, and more than the 160,000 jobs forecast by economists.

It came after job growth slowed sharply in May. The economy created 11,000 fewer jobs in April and May than previously reported, the government said on Friday.

"You look at the US number for today and there's quite a bit of sticker shock with that," said Bipan Rai, North American head of fx strategy at CIBC Capital Markets in Toronto. "We think the sticker shock and thin liquidity is enough to drive the dollar a little bit firmer for today."

The data came as many traders and investors were away, a day after the July 4 holiday and before the weekend.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was last at 97.261, the highest since June 19 and up 0.51pc on the day.

Moderate wage gains, however, added to evidence that the economy is slowing while the increase in jobs was also not enough to offset weakness in May.

"You did get a massive upside surprise but again that's coming after a month in which you had a massive downside miss," Rai said. "If you take the two numbers together you are still averaging at a clip that's slower than prior years' growth."

Average hourly earnings rose six cents or 0.2pc after gaining 0.3pc in May. That kept the annual increase in wages at 3.1pc for a second straight month.

The dollar has weakened from a two-year high reached in May on growing expectations that the Federal Reserve is closer to cutting interest rates.

A relentless slide in European government bond yields, however, has at the same time forced investors to look for higher yielding assets elsewhere, which is holding back a sustained euro rally against the greenback.

The euro also came under pressure on Friday after data showed that German industrial orders fell far more than expected in May and the Economy Ministry warned on Friday that this sector of Europe's largest economy was likely to remain weak in the coming months.

Copyright Reuters, 2019