Sun, Dec 28, 2003 - Page 10 News List

US dollar mired in all-time lows over deficit fears

AFP , NEW YORK

The dollar remained mired near its all-time lows against the euro and failed to gain ground against other currencies as concerns about US deficits and the threat of terrorism continued to weigh on the greenback.

The single European currency stood at US$1.2435 at 1800 GMT from US$1.2451 late Wednesday in New York, the same day the currency had hit a new all-time peak of US$1.2469.

The dollar was worth ?107.15 compared with ?107.18 late Thursday in Tokyo.

Most financial markets in Europe and the US were closed Thursday for the Christmas holiday.

"The factors are the same for the past three days, with a weak dollar linked to the large US budget and current account deficits. The market seems to be riveted to these deficits, much more than to the latest strong US economic growth figures," said Florence Beranger, an economist at CDC-Ixis.

"On the European side, there's an impression that the European Central Bank is satisfied with the current level of the euro, and that it has decided not to act any time soon, contrary, for example, to the Bank of Japan," she said, referring to recent Japanese central bank interventions to curb the yen's sharp rise against the dollar.

Beranger noted that trading volumes were extremely thin this week due to the year-end holidays, which leaves exchange rates vulnerable to event-driven swings.

"In recent days, the dollar's weakness has been reinforced by the fear of new [terror] attacks in the United States, especially after Washington raised its alert code to orange. Thus, even if US indicators are good, the fear of terrorism is dominating and feeding the risk for investors," she said.

The discovery this week of the first case of mad-cow disease in the US also weighed on the dollar, experts said.

"All that feeds investor worries about the United States, which makes the dollar no longer a safe haven, while the Swiss franc and gold have risen in value recently," she noted.

In New York, the dollar was quoted at 1.2519 Swiss francs, up modestly from Sf1.2470 Wednesday.

The pound stood at US$1.7726 from US$1.7731 Wednesday.

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