The dollar is showing some uncertainty in afternoon trading in New York on Tuesday, slipping against the euro and remaining essentially unchanged versus the pound. The dollar moved off a five-week low set against the yen earlier in the day.
The move came as traders continued to gauge the economic fallout from the swine flu outbreak, as the World Health Organization raised its threat level earlier in the day.
On the U.S. economic front, a report from the Conference Board showed that consumer confidence for March rose far more than expected, while a report from Standard and Poor's showed a slowing pace of contraction in home prices in February.
The data helped to generate some risk appetite on the day as the dollar moved off of its highs, ceding ground to higher yielding currencies.
Against the euro, the greenback drifted higher early before ceding considerable ground to the 16-nation currency. Moving into early afternoon dealing, the buck is sitting at 1.3147, down from its overnight level of 1.3023.
Late on Friday, the dollar slipped to its lowest level in just over a week against the Eurozone currency, reaching a level of 1.3298. The move came after the buck reached a monthly high of 1.2887 last Monday.
European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny reiterated Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet's recent comments, stating that the central bank will take all available measures to stabilize the inflationary expectations in the euro area and keep them anchored in the positive terrain.
Nowotny said the ECB would keep the interest rate very low for as long a time as is required, and it stands ready to use unconventional measures of quantitative easing to assure European firms and consumer access to credit at appropriate conditions.
Economic news from France's statistical office INSEE showed the French consumer confidence indicator rose to minus 41 in April from March's revised reading of minus 42. Economists had expected the indicator to come in at minus 43, which was the initial estimate for March.
Against the pound, the buck has inched lower, dipping to 1.4622, essentially unchanged from its overnight quote. The dollar continues to linger near a weekly low of 1.4773 posted against the pound late on Friday.
The dollar climbed to its highest level against the U.K. currency in nearly three weeks last Tuesday, with a quote of 1.4397. Meanwhile, the greenback hit its lowest level against the pound since mid-January on April 16th, posting a quote of 1.5070
The latest Distributive Trades Survey from the Confederation of British Industry showed that 44 percent of retailers reported an annual rise in sales volume, while 41 percent registered a fall, resulting in a positive balance of 3 percent for the first half of April. This was the highest balance figure recorded since January 2008.
The greenback continued its losing streak versus the yen, falling to 95.62 earlier, setting a five-week low. The buck has moved off from the mark heading into mid-afternoon trading, climbing to 96.48, now largely unchanged for the day. Before the recent decline, the dollar leveled off after hitting a 3-month high of 101.43 yen on April 6th.
The yen gained earlier today, as Japan's retail sales declined less than expected in March and the nation's small business confidence improved in April.
Japanese retail sales were down 3.9 percent year-on-year in March, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. That was better than analyst expectations for a 4.9 percent annual decline following a revised 5.7 percent fall in February. It was the seventh consecutive month of decline. Large retailers saw sales decline 8.1 percent.
On a monthly basis, retail sales were down 1.1 percent, worse than the forecasted rate of 0.4 percent.
A reading on confidence among small and medium sized Japanese companies rose to 30.8 in April from 30.4 in March, a report from the Shoko Chukin Bank showed. Economists were expecting the figure to rise to 31.0 for the month.
U.S. economic news came from the Conference Board, which reported that its consumer confidence index jumped to 39.2 in April from an upwardly revised 26.9 in March. Economists had expected the index to increase to 29.7 from the 26.0 originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index fell at an annual rate of 18.6 percent in February, a modest deceleration from the 19.0 percent drop in prices that was reported for January.
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