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Sun, May 18, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Dollar softens on weak US consumer confidence data

AFP , NEW YORK

The US dollar lost ground on Friday as a weak reading on US consumer confidence offset a surprisingly robust report on housing starts.

The euro fetched US$1.5582 at 9pm GMT, up from US$1.5445 late on Thursday in New York.

The dollar was meanwhile trading at ¥104.07 after ¥104.74 on Thursday.

The greenback met selling pressure after the University of Michigan consumer confidence index was reported to have fallen to 59.5 this month from 62.6 last month, a lower reading than had been expected by the market.

Analysts said the reading reflected consumer reaction to rising oil prices, increased joblessness and lower real estate values.

The confidence data appeared to weigh more heavily with investors than a report from the Commerce Department that US homebuilding showed a surprisingly strong jump last month, signaling a ray of hope amid the rubble of the worst housing slump in decades.

Housing starts and permits hit their highest levels since February, and new home construction rebounded from a 17-year low in March, the US Commerce Department said.

In late New York trading, the dollar stood at 1.0472 Swiss francs after SF1.0565 on Thursday.

The pound was at US$1.9579 from US$1.9468.

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