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Dollar rises on US data

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The Australian dollar is higher, after a batch of encouraging economic figures reinforced the US Federal Reserve’s positive view on the American economy.

Early Friday, the local unit was trading at 90.40 US cents, up from 90.23 cents on Thursday.

A measure of the US economy’s health rose in February by the largest amount in three months, suggesting growth should rebound following a severe winter.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators increased 0.5 per cent following a slight 0.1 per cent rise in January and a 0.1 per cent decline in December. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said separately that manufacturing rebounded in that region in March as new orders increased.

The number of people seeking US unemployment benefits rose 5,000 last week to a seasonally-adjusted 320,000, the Labor Department said. That’s close to pre-recession levels and suggests a stable job market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 108.88 points (0.67 per cent) on Thursday at 16,331.05.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 11.24 (0.60 per cent) to 1,872.01, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 11.68 (0.27 per cent) to 4,319.29.

Traders put behind them Wednesday’s mixed signals on the timing of interest rate hikes from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, after jobless claims data came in at a promising level.

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