US Dollar Edges Up Against Majors

SHANGHAI (Aug 2)  The US dollar edged higher against its major counterparts in early Asian trading on Friday as upbeat economic data from the U.S. overnight increased optimism ahead of today's closely watched non-farm payrolls.

The Labor Department released a report showing that initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell to a five-year low in the week ended July 27th. The report said initial jobless claims fell to 326,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 345,000.

The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge up to 345,000 from the 343,000 originally reported for the previous week. With the unexpected decrease, initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 321,000 in the week ended January 19, 2008.

A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management showed a bigger than expected increase by its index of U.S. manufacturing activity, which reached a two-year high.

The ISM said its purchasing managers index surged up 55.4 in July from 50.9 in June, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in manufacturing activity. Economists had expected the index to climb to a reading of 53.1.

With the much bigger than expected increase, the ISM's manufacturing index rose to its highest level since reaching 55.8 in June of 2011.