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Dollar Strengthens

MARKETSCOPE : The dollar continued strengthening Thursday, as investors speculated about inflation and the direction of U.S. monetary policy.

News hit that the August trade deficit was $59 billion, shy of the $59.5 billion consensus estimate. Import prices rose 2.3%, over twice what the Street had expected. Initial jobless claims eased by 2,000 to 389,000. Market players had expected to see them down to 360,000 from 390,000 last week.

The euro was $1.2030, from an earlier $1.1977. The sterling was 1.7565, from an earlier 1.7477.

The dollar to yen ratio was 114.41. The dollar had been up at a 17-month high of 114.78 yen, in spite of news that Japanese interest rates rose and the current account surplus shrank 16% to 1.22 trillion yen.

Investors have speculated in recent weeks that the Fed will continue to raise interest rates and global central banks might follow suit to combat inflation, amid soaring energy costs.

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