The dollar strengthened against its peers on Friday on thin holiday volume traded with many financial markets closed in observance of the Good Friday holiday as amended US GDP data showing a higher growth rate supported predictions for an upcoming rate increase by the Federal Reserve.  US 4th quarter GDP was amended up from last month’s estimate of 1% to an annualized growth rate of 1.4% while analysts forecast the rate to be unchanged.  Hawkish comments made by Federal Reserve officials earlier in the week revealing the possibility the central bank could raise rates soon preceded the GDP data release.   The US dollar index ticked up 0.11% trading at 96.17 towards Friday’s close closing out the week up 1.1%.  The US is scheduled to release personal spending and pending home sales data on Monday.  The market eagerly awaits this Friday’s US nonfarm payrolls report for March.   
 
The euro weakened against the dollar with the pair down 0.09% trading at 1.1166 towards Friday’s close off its session high of 1.1180 after having come off its session low of 1.1153 reached earlier in the day.  The market was still on edge following Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels pushing the pair lower to post losses for 5 consecutive trading sessions.  Investors will be looking forward to inflation data due to be released out of the euro zone on Wednesday.   
 
The pound weakened against the dollar with the pair down 0.22% trading at 1.4126 towards Friday’s close off its session high of 1.4157 after having come off its session low of 1.4107 reached earlier in the day.  The pound closed out the week with losses of 2.32% as doubt surrounding Britain’s future membership of the European Union added downside pressure to the currency.  The pound faced additional vulnerability as speculation that the terrorist attacks in Brussels could increase the chances of a “Brexit” intensified. 
 
The yen weakened against the dollar with the pair up 0.19% trading at 113.11 towards Friday’s close off its session high of 113.32 after having come off its session low of 112.75 reached earlier in the day.  The pair closed out the week up 1.51%.  Japan’s national core consumer price index was flat in February on a year over year basis compounding forecasts for an increase of 0.1% while national CPI was up over the 0.3% forecasted increase.  While energy and commodity prices remain lower and average wage growth stay flat inflation has yet to be successful in reaching levels expected by the Bank of Japan.  The central bank is relying on a shrinking labor supply and limited economic growth to raise consumer prices closer to its target.  Japanese corporate services price index climbed 0.2% on a year over year basis in February.   
 
The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars weakened against the greenback as commodity associated currencies continued to be faced with downside pressure as oil prices extended declines following the release of data which revealed that US oil stockpiles climbed to record highs.  Oil was down 0.5% trading at $39.59 per barrel towards Friday’s close.  The Aussie dollar lost 0.27% against the greenback with the pair trading at 0.7509 towards Friday’s close off its session low of 0.7497 after having come off its session high of 0.7535 reached earlier in the day.  The kiwi dollar dropped 0.18% against the greenback with the pair trading at 0.6691 towards Friday’s close off its session low of 0.6671 after having come off its session high of 0.6714 reached earlier in the day.  The loonie retreated 0.18% against the dollar with the pair trading at 1.3269 towards Friday’s close off its session high of 1.3283 after having come off its session low of 1.3223 reached earlier in the day. 
The market will be closely monitoring data to be released on Friday out of China on manufacturing and service sector activity.  Markets in Australia, Hong Kong, London, Frankfurt, Paris and Milan will be closed in observance of Easter Monday.  Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak on Tuesday and her remarks should indicate when the FOMC will introduce a rate increase.
 
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