Dollar falls against major currencies

The greenback looses traction as reports indicate that economic recovery will be slow and protracted.

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By Catherine Clifford, staff writer

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NEW YORK ( -- The dollar fell against major currencies Thursday, amid a grab-bag of fresh indications that recovery for the U.S. economy is still a way off.

The 16-nation euro traded at $1.3153, up 1.1% from Wednesday's closing price of $1.3006.

The British pound also rallied against the greenback, trading at $1.4732, up 1.7% from Wednesday's closing price of $1.4492.

The dollar edged lower against the Japanese yen, buying ¥97.91, just 0.1% shy of Wednesday, when the dollar bought ¥98.02.

Global markets were mixed Thursday, with Asian markets adding between 1% and 2% but markets across Europe little changed, some adding 1% and others losing slightly.

U.S. markets churned as investors digested a couple of reports on the economy showing continued weakness in the labor and housing markets. At the end of a volatile session, however, Wall Street managed gains, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding 1%.

An announcement from General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) showed continued weakness in the auto industry. GM will idle 13 of 20 North American plants and cut its inventory by 190,000 units to match dwindling demand.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 640,000 from a revised 613,000 the previous week, according to a report from the Labor Department. Meanwhile, the number of people collecting benefits overall climbing to a record 6.14 million.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales fell in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units, 3% lower than the downwardly revised rate of 4.71 million in February. The rate was down 7.1% year over year.

Investors were also concerned about the health of the financial sector in the U.S. after a hand full of major banks reported mixed financial reports for the latest quarter. Even as some big named banks - like Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) - posted profits, concern remained over whether the nation's banking system was prepared for continued credit deterioration.

Across the Atlantic, however, the Swiss-based Credit Swiss Group reported a strong $1.7 billion profit Thursday, adding support to the euro.

The sterling bounced back after it lost a lot of ground Wednesday as the U.K. government released its budget for the coming year. The budget included the revised schedule for sales of gilts, debt issued by the British Debt Management Office to fund government expenses. To top of page

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