Dollar rises against yen, sterling shines

The dollar was higher against the yen on Wednesday following the release of slightly stronger than expected data on Chinese first quarter growth, while the pound rose to almost four year highs after robust U.K. jobs data.

USD/JPY was last up 0.40% to 102.32, from 101.90 on Tuesday.

Official data released on Wednesday showed that China’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 7.4% in the first three months of 2014, slowing from 7.7% in the fourth quarter, but slightly ahead of expectations for growth of 7.3%.

The yen also came under pressure as strong gains in Asian equities markets overnight curbed safe haven demand for the Japanese currency. The Nikkei 225 rallied 3.01%, led higher by gains in technology shares.

Meanwhile, sterling strengthened broadly, with GBP/USD up 0.40% to 1.6792, not far from the four year peaks of 1.6821 struck on February 17.

The pound’s gains came after data showed that the U.K. unemployment rate fell to a five year low of 6.9% in the three months to February, bolstering the outlook for the wider economic recovery.

The euro pushed higher against the dollar, with EUR/USD rising 0.17% to 1.3837, while USD/CHF dipped 0.08% to 0.8793.

New Zealand’s dollar fell to one-and-a-half week lows, with NZD/USD down 0.52% to 0.8598 after data on Wednesday showed that the annual rate of inflation in New Zealand rose 1.5% in the first quarter, slowing from 1.6% in the fourth quarter and undershooting expectations for 1.7%.

Meanwhile, the Australian and Canadian dollars slipped lower, with AUD/USD down 0.16% to 0.9343, and USD/CAD rising 0.19% to 1.0999.

The US Dollar Index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, dipped 0.08% to 79.81.

Market watchers were looking ahead to a speech on monetary policy by Fed Chair Janet Yellen in New York later in the trading day.