The dollar was narrowly mixed versus other major currencies Monday in New York after the Obama administration revealed plans combine public funds and private capital to buy up toxic assets.
The move, in conjunction with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve, is expected to open up lending to consumers and small businesses.
The program will use to $100 billion in funds from the $700 billion financial rescue plan passed in 2008 in addition to capital from private investors to generate an estimated $500 billion to purchase the toxic assets, a number that could double to $1 trillion over time, the Treasury Department said.
There was surprising news from the housing front, where US existing home sales unexpectedly rose in the month of February, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Monday.
Sales rebounded after hitting a twelve-year low in the previous month. The report showed that existing home sales rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in February from a pace of 4.49 million units in January. Economists had expected sales to slip to a 4.45 million unit rate.
The dollar was stable versus the euro on Monday, holding its ground after suffering huge losses in the previous session. The buck hovered near 1.3600, an improvement from last week's 2-month low of 1.3737.
Eurozone policymakers may continue to be non-conventional in boosting bank lending, central bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said, according to excerpts of an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
In the UK, a leading business lobby urged the Chancellor to deliver a confidence-building budget, which would support jobs, investment and competitiveness through the recession and beyond.
The dollar found its footing versus the sterling after hitting a new monthly low of 1.4648 in very early dealing. The dollar stabilized near 1.4500 by mid-morning, pausing from a significant recent downtrend.
The buck managed to firm up versus the yen after Japan's Finance Minister said a massive government stimulus package would be necessary to prevent the current fiscal quarter from repeating the 12.1 percent economic contraction seen in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano's comments came in a televised interview on Monday. It's not a situation where new fiscal spending of 2 to 3 trillion yen would be enough of a remedy, Yosano said, adding that the amount of 20 trillion said such a stimulus package would have to be would not be out of line.
The dollar rose to 97.31 versus the yen, moving back toward a 4-month high of 99.70 from earlier in March.
Japan's Finance Ministry and Cabinet Office said the large company business sentiment index registered minus 51.3 in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the minus 35.7 reading in the fourth quarter. Negative readings indicate more companies are pessimistic about the economy than are optimistic.
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