The United States' unemployment rate fell unexpectedly in January to 4.9%, the lowest in almost eight years, and compared to December's 5.0% and analysts' expectations of a flat result. However, the all important non-farm payrolls report showed a slowdown in job growth to 151 thousand in January, less than expectations of 190K but still far up from 100,000, the important level of job growth to keep up with the population's expansion.
Other data showed a surge in wages in January by 0.5% m/m, compared to December's flat result and forecasts of a 0.3% growth. Wages are expected to keep growing in 2016 as the jobs market keeps tightening, leading to overall inflation that would help the Federal Reserve return to its monetary tightening path, which is positive for the dollar.
The greenback's index, which measures the U.S. unit against an array of rivals, jumped 0.70% to 97.17 on short-covering, while euro fell 0.72% against the dollar to 1.1119. Sterling slumped nearly 0.80% versus the green currency to 1.4473, with the dollar added half a percent against the yen to trade at 117.37.
Metal prices were hammered by the strength of the dollar, with gold futures tumbling more than one percent, or 12 dollars to $1,146 an ounce, while silver futures nosedived 1.14%, or 17 cents to $14.68 an ounce. Copper's woes were even bigger, with the industrial meta's futures falling 1.81% to $2.093 a pound.
European shares didn't move much away from the previous session's closing levels, with the pan-European index FTSEurofirst 300 climbing 0.25% to 1,296. Germany's DAX rose 20 points, or 0.22% to 9,407, while France's CAC 50 index advanced 14 points, or 0.34% to trade at 4,242. Britain's FTSE crept up 11 points, or 0.17% to 5,911.