The U.S. dollar continued strengthening against most of its major counterparts Thursday as concerns over the so-called fiscal cliff in the U.S. and uncertainties of European debt crisis remained.
The dollar and the Japanese yen, considered as relatively safe assets, advanced compared to other major currencies on speculations that Republicans and Democrats on the U.S. Congress would struggle to reach an agreement for averting the fiscal cliff, caused by the 600 billion U.S. dollars of taxes increases and sweeping government spending cuts that would automatically take effect in January.
On the economic front, data from the U.S. Labor Department showed the number of people applying for unemployment benefits decreased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 355,000 in the week ending Nov.3. However, analysts also said that Hurricane Sandy might have some impact on the report and more data are needed to confirm the positive momentum in the jobs market.
The euro declined to a two-month low against the dollar as the European Central Bank Thursday announced to maintain its benchmark interest rate at 0.75 percent at its policy meeting.
After the meeting, the ECB President Mario Draghi also said economic activity in the euro area is expected to remain weak and high uncertainty continued to weigh on the economic outlook.
Although the Greek Parliament narrowly passed a new austerity plan after Wednesday's vote, European Union financial ministers said they may not unlock bailout funds for Greece until late November. Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the 17-country eurozone is not yet in a position to make a decision on releasing the funds.
In late New York trading, the euro fell to 1.2750 dollars from 1.2767 of the previous session and the British pound dipped to 1. 5981 dollars from 1.5987.
The dollar went up to 0.9457 Swiss francs from 0.9449 and rose to 0.9998 Canadian dollars from 0.9971. The dollar bought 79.38 Japanese yen, lower than 79.90 in the previous session.