Friday, July 13, 2007
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Worries about the strength of the U.S. economy sent the dollar stumbling in Europe Friday, where the euro broke through the $1.38 mark for the first time.
The 13-nation euro moved as high as $1.3813 in afternoon European trading before falling back to $1.3786. That was up from $1.3783 in New York late Thursday.
The dollar, which has been under pressure all week, fell after the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales in June fell by 0.9 percent compared with the previous month. That was its biggest drop since August 2005, and came as demand for cars, furniture and building supplies plummeted.
U.S. economic data are being scrutinized closely for hints on the U.S. Federal Reserve's future interest rate course.
The Fed has left its benchmark rate unchanged at 5.25 percent for a year after two years of steady increases.
That contrasts with the course of the European Central Bank, which has raised rates steadily and is expected to do so again to 4.25 percent in September. The Bank of England last week increased its benchmark rate to 5.75 percent, a six-year high.
Higher interest rates, a weapon against inflation, can bolster a currency by giving better returns on fixed-income investments.
Concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy, fueled largely by woes in the subprime housing sector, have boosted the euro against the dollar.
Higher interest rates and the economic slowdown have lead to more defaults in subprime mortgages, which are loans to borrowers with weak or spotty credit histories.
The British pound continued to trade around 26-year highs against the dollar Friday. On Friday, it rose to $2.0334 from its level late Thursday of $2.0304.The dollar slipped to 122.21 Japanese yen from 122.41 yen.