Dollar falls to post WW II low vs yen; euro climbs

AP News
Posted: Oct 21, 2011 5:08 PM
Dollar falls to post WW II low vs yen; euro climbs

The euro climbed against the dollar on Friday on hopes that European leaders can put together a comprehensive plan to solve the region's debt crisis.

Meanwhile, the dollar fell to its lowest point against the Japanese yen since World War II. The yen has risen 6.5 percent this year against the U.S. currency despite Japan's efforts to slow its climb. A strong yen can hurt Japanese companies selling goods overseas.

European financial ministers are meeting this weekend to figure out how to add more firepower to a bailout fund, and are tentatively scheduled to meet next week to come up with a broad solution.

But reports of disagreement between France and Germany over terms of the plan have spooked investors. The two countries disagree about the size of losses that private banks should take on Greek debt that they own, among other issues. Fears that Greece will default, causing catastrophe in other countries that use the euro, have weighed on markets this year. Finance ministers on Friday agreed to release the next batch of loans to Greece from its 2010 bailout. Without them, Greece would have defaulted on its debt.

Lack of consensus between the European Union's two largest economies could derail a solution to the crisis, which has already slowed Europe's economy and threatens to inflict large losses on the region's banks.

The euro rose to $1.3864 Friday from $1.3777. After sliding 7 percent in September, the euro has bounced back about 3 percent this month on hopes of a solution to the debt crisis.

"The markets seem remarkably sanguine about the ability of policymakers to save the day. We doubt that will remain the case," said Jonathan Loynes, an analyst with research firm Capital Economics.

The dollar fell as low as 75.76 yen. In late trading, the dollar was worth 76.12 yen, down from 76.85 late Thursday.

Brown Brothers Harriman foreign exchange analyst Mark McCormick said he'd heard rumors that a big options bet on the yen expired on Friday, triggering the move. He said there was no specific economic news to explain the yen's fall.

McCormick also dismissed speculation that the drop may prompt Japan to intervene in currency markets again to support the yen.

The yen, like the Swiss franc, has gained this year as a "safe haven" bid. Investors consider them safe places to park funds when markets are in turmoil.

The dollar fell to 0.8846 franc from 0.8942 franc, while the British pound rose to $1.5939 from $1.5790.

The U.S. dollar fell to 1.0093 Canadian dollars from 1.0142 Canadian dollars.