The US dollar continued to strengthen against major currencies on Thursday, as strong economic data from the United States raised the speculation that the Federal Reserve may step up an exit from its monetary stimulus. A batch of U.S. data came out positive Thursday, providing a boost to the greenback, since the U.S. central bank had pledged to adjust its tapering pace of its massive bond buying in the future depending on economic data. The number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits in the week ending Dec. 28 dropped 2,000 to 339,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 341,000, said the Labor Department Thursday. Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in December for the seventh consecutive month, registering 57, the second highest reading for 2013, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a global supply management association. Separately, business conditions in the U.S. manufacturing sector continued to improve in December, the financial data firm Markit reported Thursday. Moreover, U.S. construction spending in November also rose 1.0 percent from the preceding month, the Department of Commerce announced Thursday. A report showed that German manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index in December beat market consensus by a penny, but failed to push the euro higher against the dollar, as most analysts believed that the European Central Bank wouldn't change interest rates in its policy meeting next week. In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.3654 dollars from 1.3754 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.6423 dollars from 1.6560 dollars. The Australian dollar went down to 0.8908 dollar from 0.8932 dollar. The dollar bought 104.71 Japanese yen, lower than 105.26 yen of the previous session. The greenback moved up to 0.9007 Swiss francs from 0.8922, and advanced to 1.0664 Canadian dollars from 1. 0630.