Meanwhile, investors will be monitoring the state of the global economic recovery and Europe’s ongoing battle to contain its three-year debt crisis. A string of indicators were released Wednesday and more are due later, including the closely-monitored monthly U.S. manufacturing survey from the Institute for Supply Management.
Figures released earlier Wednesday highlighted the scale of the downturn in the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro.
The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index — a key gauge of business activity published by data information company Markit — showed the industrial sector was mired in recession in December. The index for the eurozone fell to 46.1 from 46.3 the previous month. Anything below 50 indicates a contraction in activity.
How the European economy fares over the coming months will likely hinge on developments in the debt crisis. In the last few months of 2012, tensions eased largely in the wake of the announcement of a new bond-buying plan from the European Central Bank.
“If the second half of 2012 is anything to go by it seems that on the back of central bank action investors are presently inclined to turn a blind eye to poor news and more likely to look on the bright side of events,” said Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank International.
That has shored up the euro over the past few months and Europe’s single currency eked out further gains Wednesday as investor sentiment was buoyant in the wake of the fiscal cliff deal. When investors have a propensity to take on riskier assets, the dollar often loses ground. The euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.3243.
Oil prices also pushed higher, with the benchmark New York contract up 83 cents at $92.65 a barrel.