Dollar edges up, posts gains after rough week

TOKYO - The dollar edged higher against the yen and Swiss franc on Friday, recovering to post a rise on the week after initially plunging to record lows as the collapse of Bear Stearns stirred fears about the broadening credit crunch.

By (Reuters)

Published: Fri 21 Mar 2008, 2:45 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:21 PM

The dollar clung to gains as investors sold commodities such as oil and gold and bought back the U.S. currency, partly to take profits on winning positions before a long weekend and the first quarter wraps up on Monday.

“The dollar firmed as players such as hedge funds are aggressively booking profits everywhere, turning the funds into dollars,” said Hideki Amikura, forex manager at Nomura Trust and Banking.

“We don’t know yet whether it means the end of the credit market turmoil that has hit the dollar or just an end of the first act,” Amikura said.

Trade was subdued as many markets across the world were closed for Easter weekend holidays. In Asia, most markets besides Japan were closed. Major European and U.S. markets are also closed on Friday.

Market players said it was too early to expect a sustained rebound in the dollar, which plummeted to a near 13-year trough against the yen at the start of this week as well as record lows versus the euro and Swiss franc.

But confidence in U.S. assets was partially restored by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive efforts to relieve the credit crisis.

Among the array of initiatives, the Fed pushed JPMorgan Chase to absorb Bear Stearns, started lending directly to securities firms for the first time since the Great Depression and slashed interest rates by 75 basis points to 2.25 percent.

Thanks to the Fed’s efforts, the dollar climbed 1.5 percent on the week against the basket of major currencies to around 72.75

The dollar posted its biggest gain against the euro since mid-December on Thursday as oil prices briefly dipped below $100 barrel for the first time in two weeks and gold dropped to a one-month low.

The euro edged up around 0.1 percent to $1.5445 from late U.S. trading on Thursday, but well off a record high of $1.5905 struck on electronic trading platform EBS on Monday.

The dollar on Friday rose around 0.3 percent against the yen to 99.65 yen hovering above a 12-1/2-year low of 95.77 yen hit on EBS on Monday. On the week, the U.S. currency climbed 0.6 percent.

The dollar was up 0.1 percent on the day at 1.0087 Swiss franc

“The fact that there is a credit crunch has not changed, nor have conditions in the U.S. housing market. The dollar may find it hard to rise further,” said a trader for a Japanese trust bank.

The dollar had tumbled after JPMorgan’s sudden acquisition of Bear Stears stoked fears that other major financial firms could fall victim to the widening credit crisis that has damaged markets once considered relatively safe.

The dollar has since trimmed its losses, due partly to better-than-expected quarterly earnings at top U.S. investment banks, and news that home financing companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won regulatory approval to pump $200 billion more into troubled U.S. mortgage markets.

But doubts lingered about the outlook for the dollar, which has been dented by the Fed’s sharp cuts that have taken overnight rates to their lowest in three years.

“Even if there are temporary moves to buy back the dollar ... I think it will be hard to change the trend,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, head of FX strategy Japan at the Royal Bank of Scotland, adding that the dollar could fall again next week if U.S. economic data comes in weak.

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