Dollar rises on US hiring numbers

The dollar strengthened against other major currencies Wednesday after an encouraging reading on business hiring stoked optimism for the US February jobs report due Friday.

The euro and the pound particularly lagged against the dollar ahead of monetary policy meetings Thursday of the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

Official confirmation that the eurozone economy shrank 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, bringing a 0.6 percent contraction for all of 2012, focused attention on the 17-nation bloc's persistent troubles.

The euro bought $1.2971 around 2200 GMT, down from $1.3047 at the same time Tuesday.

The dollar gained against the Japanese currency, trading at 94.04 yen compared with 93.30 yen late Tuesday.

The greenback was helped by a report from payrolls firm ADP that showed the private sector added 198,000 jobs in February, well above expectations.

The hiring numbers raised hope that the February nonfarm payrolls report will show at least modest jobs growth, even though the unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 7.9 percent.

Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management said that US economic data has been remarkably resistance since the start of the year despite a payroll tax hike and draconian government budget cuts known as the sequester.

"The ADP report showed that US businesses continued to hire in the face of these macro obstacles, and if it accurately forecasts the (jobs) report due Friday, then investor sentiment towards US assets is likely to turn even more positive," he said.

The pound weakened against the dollar, fetching $1.5017, down from $1.5125 late Tuesday.

The dollar rose to 0.9482 Swiss francs from 0.9409 francs the prior day.