Dollar gains

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    NEW YORK- The dollar rose on Wednesday as upbeat economic data and signs of strengthening inflation helped the greenback gain ground against a basket of world currencies.

    Bitcoin touched a record high of $52,338.85, a day after clearing the $50,000 hurdle for the first time, prompting some analysts to warn that current levels might be unsustainable amid the cryptocurrency’s heightened volatility.

    US retail sales, industrial output and producer prices data provided robust surprises to the upside, signaling the economic recovery from the pandemic recession is gaining momentum as vaccine deployment progresses.

    “Today’s retail sales data was not just stronger than expected, it blew the estimates away. Same with industrial output,” said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Forex in New York.

    The US Federal Reserve released minutes from its Jan. 26-27 monetary policy meeting, in which participants expressed the need to “stay vigilant” amid recent signs of economic rebound, discussed expected near term inflation, and affirmed its commitment to keeping accommodative policy in place to support the ailing jobs market.

    Still, the minutes held few surprises.

    “Generally speaking (the Fed minutes) did not include much new information,” Chandler said. “What the market is looking forward to is (Fed Chairman) Powell’s testimony next week.”

    Despite optimistic economic reports, US bond yields reversed their recent advance on waning selling pressure. The 10-year yield had last pared back to 1.2939 percent after rising as high as 1.333 percent earlier in the day. – Reuters