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Dollar gains over euro after strong U.S. retail sales

By Karen Brettell
FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar notes are seen in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Karen Brettell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar gained on Thursday on strong retail sales data, while the euro was dented by weak manufacturing data in the region.

U.S. retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years in March as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, the latest indication that economic growth picked up in the first quarter after a false start.

Other data showed that the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell to more than a 49-1/2-year low last week, pointing to sustained strength in the economy.

The picture was less bullish in the Eurozone as data showed that activity in Germany's manufacturing sector shrank for a fourth straight month in April, while a similar survey from France also painted a bleak picture.

“In the space of several hours we got a timely reminder that the growth leadership is very decisively in favor of the U.S. dollar,” said Richard Franulovich, head of FX strategy at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.

Investors have been looking for signs that global growth is stabilizing after a slowdown.

"Investors are worried about the health of the global economy and the eurozone and the fortunes of the euro are closely tied with that," said Ricardo Evangelista, a senior analyst at ActivTrades in London.

A week ago, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi raised the prospect of more support for the struggling euro zone economy if its slowdown persist.

(Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee in London; Editing by Susan Thomas)