The euro weakened against the dollar after Irish debt was downgraded to junk by Moody's Investors Service and yields surged in Italy, drawing the Eurozone's largest debtor further into the region's financial crisis.
The Swiss franc and yen were the top performers against the greenback as investors sought safety amid warnings from ratings companies about the US and Europe. The dollar advanced after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress inflation has moved higher, boosting speculation the central bank won't take further steps to support the US economy. A report this week will update global demand for US Treasuries.
"The European debt crisis is continuing to rear its ugly head; the debt crisis is far from over," said John Doyle, a strategist in Washington at currency-trading firm Tempus Consulting Inc. "Ireland was cut to junk, everyone started to worry about a possible default for Italy — overall that's the main story."
The euro fell 0.8 per cent to $1.4157 in New York, from $1.4265 on July 8, its second straight weekly decline. The yen strengthened 2.6 per cent against the euro to 112.02, the biggest five-day gain since May 6. The dollar weakened 1.9 per cent to 79.13 yen from 80.64.
The franc rose against all its major counterparts and reached records versus the dollar and euro on Thursday. It gained 2.6 per cent versus the dollar to 81.52 centimes, from 83.66, touching 80.83. Switzerland's currency surged 3.3 per cent against the euro to 1.15384, from 1.19320, climbing to a record 1.14945.
The Swiss National Bank is "monitoring the euro-franc exchange rate very closely", central bank Vice President Thomas Jordan said on Thursday. The franc has gained 8.5 per cent against the euro this year.
Gold rose to records in London and New York as investors sought a reprieve from volatility. Implied volatility among currencies of the Group of Seven nations jumped 9.8 per cent, the biggest increase on a weekly basis since March 18, according to a JP Morgan Chase and Co index.
"If you look at the gold market it has had significant moves and is at record highs as the currency markets are trying to balance out huge risks in both the US and Europe," said Camilla Sutton, head of currency strategy at Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto.
Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda expressed concern about the "one-sided" moves of the yen last week, which was the second-best performer against the dollar. The yen strengthened to 78.47 against the dollar, the best level since March 17.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said rapid foreign-exchange moves weren't "desirable".
From / Gulf News