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FOREX-Dollar drops as U.S. jobless claims surge

By Karen Brettell

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Adds quotes, updates prices, new byline, changes dateline, previous LONDON) By Karen Brettell NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - The dollar dropped to a one-week low against a basket of currencies on Thursday after data showed an unprecedented surge in Americans filing for unemployment benefits, as businesses across the country shut down in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to record of more than 3 million last week. The jobless blowout was announced shortly after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the U.S. economy "may well be in recession" but progress in controlling the spread of the coronavirus will dictate when the economy can fully reopen. His remarks were an unusual acknowledgement by a Fed chair that the economy may be contracting even before data confirms it. “The number has sent chills through the markets. If these numbers continue for three or four weeks, there will be demand for more fiscal support," and even more monetary support from the Fed, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey. The dollar index fell to 99.92, the lowest since March 18. The euro gained to $1.0972, up 0.85% on the day and the highest since March 18. The greenback dipped 1.53% against the Japanese yen to 109.49 yen. The Australian dollar jumped 1.31% to $0.6036. The U.S. Senate on Wednesday unanimously backed a $2 trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus epidemic, as well as providing billions of dollars to buy urgently needed medical equipment. The Federal Reserve last week launched new bond purchase and lending programs in an attempt to ease market logjams. It also committed to swapping dollars for foreign currencies with other major central banks after a desperate scramble for the currency last week sent the dollar to three year highs against the euro, 35-year highs against sterling and 17-year highs against the Australian dollar. “Although the latest Fed measures have helped calm markets, as long as the Covid-19 crisis continues and the world economy is effectively in lockdown, we would expect markets to remain in turmoil,” foreign exchange analysts at Bank of America said in a report on Thursday. ======================================================== Currency bid prices at 9:23AM (1323 GMT) Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid Previous Change Session Euro/Dollar EUR= $1.0972 $1.0880 +0.85% -2.12% +1.0990 +1.0872 Dollar/Yen JPY= 109.4900 111.1900 -1.53% +0.58% +111.3000 +109.3900 Euro/Yen EURJPY= 120.15 121.00 -0.70% -1.48% +121.0800 +119.9700 Dollar/Swiss CHF= 0.9684 0.9767 -0.85% +0.06% +0.9777 +0.9678 Sterling/Dollar GBP= 1.2012 1.1885 +1.07% -9.40% +1.2031 +1.1778 Dollar/Canadian CAD= 1.4073 1.4190 -0.82% +8.37% +1.4275 +1.4069 Australian/Doll AUD= 0.6036 0.5958 +1.31% -14.03% +0.6056 +0.5871 ar Euro/Swiss EURCHF= 1.0630 1.0628 +0.02% -2.05% +1.0653 +1.0619 Euro/Sterling EURGBP= 0.9132 0.9150 -0.20% +8.02% +0.9239 +0.9130 NZ NZD= 0.5913 0.5848 +1.11% -12.22% +0.5932 +0.5779 Dollar/Dollar Dollar/Norway NOK= 10.4901 10.7480 -2.40% +19.50% +10.8276 +10.4780 Euro/Norway EURNOK= 11.5130 11.6970 -1.57% +17.01% +11.8276 +11.5036 Dollar/Sweden SEK= 10.0325 10.0749 +0.19% +7.33% +10.1565 +10.0158 Euro/Sweden EURSEK= 11.0060 10.9847 +0.19% +5.13% +11.0704 +10.9796 (Additional reporting by Olga Cotaga in London and Medha Singh in Bengaluru Editing by Nick Zieminski)