The Swiss franc hovered near record highs against the dollar and euro in Asia on Tuesday, having surged on the back of a global stock market rout as a crisis of confidence gripped investors.
The Japanese yen also firmed and the U.S. dollar jumped against the euro and commodity currencies as Wall Street's biggest selloff since December 2008 prompted a massive flight to safety.
Even U.S. Treasuries soared, despite Standard & Poor's downgrade of the United States' prized triple-A credit rating, a move that unsettled investors already worried about festering debt problems on both sides of the Atlantic.
"We're in a skittish market and the market is looking for a some sort of circuit break. Chinese data today might potentially do it," said Grant Turley, senior currency strategist at ANZ in Sydney.
Chinese industrial output, retail sales and inflation data are due Tuesday morning. Hopes are pinned on robust growth in China to help drive the global economy. See
The dollar fell to an all-time low near 0.7480 Swiss francs , while the euro plumbed around 1.0640 francs . They last traded at 0.7550 and 1.0702 francs respectively.
Against the yen, the dollar slipped to 77.57 from above 80 yen just last week, while the euro slid to around 110.00 yen from recent highs around 114.00.
"At this stage I suspect market concern outweighs the threat of intervention (by Swiss and Japanese authorities)," Grant added.
The common currency also lost ground on the greenback, falling to $1.4129 from a session high around $1.4400 on Monday. It was last at $1.4173.
The euro's decline came even as traders said the ECB bought Spanish and Italian debt early in the European session, putting into action its vow to "actively implement" its bond-buying programme.
The next downside target for euro/dollar is seen around Friday's low at $1.4055. Support lies around $1.4030, the pair's 200-week moving average, strategists said.
"We are seeing strong net selling of especially the Australian dollar and Canadian dollar as commodity-linked currencies lose ground amid renewed concerns about global growth stalling," said Samarjit Shankar, managing director of global FX strategy at BNY Mellon in Boston.
The Australian dollar slumped to a low around $1.0109, taking losses to nearly 10 full cents from a 29-year peak of $1.1081 set just two weeks ago.
So far, action by the European Central Bank to shore up the euro zone debt market and vows by the Group of Seven industrialised nations to stabilise markets have failed to soothe jittery investors.
This leaves the next focus squarely on U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers, who are due to meet on Tuesday.
There has been chatter the Fed would discuss options for more measures to help the economy, but most on Wall Street had thought it would refrain from any fresh moves after having completed a $600 billion bond programme known as QE2 in June.
Still, given the magnitude of the recent declines on Wall Street, the Fed will be under intense pressure to offer some sort of assistance, if only verbal. (Additional reporting by Wanfeng Zhou and Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Wayne Cole)