* U.S. jobless claims, Philly Fed data push dollar higher
* Sterling flat after strong rise on BoE rate decision (Updates with U.S. trading, changes dateline, previous LONDON)
By Dion Rabouin
NEW YORK, June 15 (Reuters) - The dollar rose to its highest in more than two weeks on Thursday as solid readings on the U.S. economy helped strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve to continue tightening monetary policy this year.
The number of Americans filing unemployment claims fell more than expected last week, suggesting that slack in the labor market was shrinking, and the Philadelphia Fed business conditions index for June beat expectations after a strong reading in May.
The Fed has maintained its monetary policy is data dependent, meaning economic reports in line with its outlook are necessary for it to continue raising rates.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against six major peers, rose to 97.557, its highest since May 30.
The dollar also hit its highest against the euro, Swiss franc and Swedish crown since May 30 following the data’s release.
The greenback rose to a six-day high against the Japanese yen of 110.64 yen.
“The Fed has pretty much reaffirmed its intent, absent any pronounced deterioration, of continuing to normalize rates, to raise once more this year,” said Joseph Trevisani, chief market strategist at WorldWideMarkets Online Trading. “And I think that realization is starting to seep into the market right now.”
The dollar already was trading higher ahead of the release of U.S. economic data on Thursday in response to the Fed’s decision to raise U.S. overnight interest rates by 25 basis points to a target range of 1.00-1.25 percent on Wednesday. The Fed also gave its first clear outline of its plan to reduce its $4.2-trillion portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds.
A Reuters poll of 21 of the 23 primary dealers that do business directly with the Fed showed 14 of them now believed the central bank would announce the start of its balance sheet normalization at its Sept. 19-20 policy meeting. The rest of them said it would make such a move at its Dec. 12-13 meeting.
“Long-term Fed expectations remain very much supported - that is the main reason why the dollar is remaining supported for now,” Credit Agricole currency strategist Manuel Oliveri said.
Sterling was flat in North American trading after it jumped more than a cent on signs of a shift in the Bank of England’s stance on keeping interest rates at record lows.
Two more policymakers at the Bank of England joined Kristin Forbes in calling for a reversal to the BoE’s interest rate cut last August, sending the pound as high as $1.2795 in the minutes following its decision to leave rates unchanged.
It was last little changed against the dollar at $1.2757.
Reporting by Dion Rabouin; Editing by Andrea Ricci