NEWYORK, Jan. 19 -- The dollar traded near a four-week low against the yen on speculation the U.S. economic recovery will slow, prompting the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates near zero to sustain growth.
The U.S. currency fell versus 12 of its 16 major counterparts before U.S. reports this week that economists said will show building permits rose at a slower pace and manufacturing in the Philadelphia region fell. The euro traded near the lowest level since December against the yen amid concern Greece's deteriorating public finances will hamper a recovery in the region's economy.
"Some parts of the U.S. are still doing poorly, implying it's not rebounding as strongly as some other countries," said Masanobu Ishikawa, general manager of foreign exchange at Tokyo Forex & Ueda Harlow Ltd., Japan's largest currency broker. "The trend for dollar weakness is intact."
The dollar traded at 90.73 yen as of 9:53 a.m. in Tokyo from 90.78 yesterday in New York after earlier falling to 90.52, the weakest since Dec. 21. The U.S. currency was at $1.4398 per euro from $1.4384, and dropped to $1.6395 per pound from $1.6343. The euro was at 130.63 yen from 130.58 yesterday when it fell to 130.09, the lowest since Dec. 22.
The Commerce Department will say tomorrow building permits increased at a 580,000 pace in December, compared with a revised 589,000 in November, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's general economic index, due Jan. 21, declined to 19.4 this month from 20.4 in December, a separate Bloomberg survey showed.
Fed Rate Outlook
Futures on the Chicago Board of Trade show a 26 percent chance the Fed will raise borrowing costs from its current range of zero to 0.25 percent by its June meeting, down from 42 percent odds a month ago.
The euro was near a four-month low against the pound before a report today that economists said will show investor sentiment in Germany, the euro-zone's biggest economy, declined for a fourth month amid lingering concerns over Greece.
The ZEW Center for European Economic Research's index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict developments six months ahead, slipped to 50 this month from 50.4 in December, according to a Bloomberg News survey.
"There is strong uncertainty about the depth of sovereign problems in Greece and the euro-zone," said Shinichi Hayashi, a dealer in Tokyo at Shinkin Central Bank, the central institution for Japan's financial cooperatives. "This will keep a lid on appetite for the euro."
Greece's worsening finances last month prompted Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's to cut the country's creditworthiness, fueling concern about a default on its debt and prompting investors to sell assets of other countries. Moody's said on Jan. 13 the Greek and Portuguese economies may face a "slow death" by dedicating more of their wealth to paying off debt.
Luxembourg Treasury Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday that Greece needs "drastic and courageous measures" to tackle its budget deficit and must do it on its own.
The euro was at 87.92 pence from 88.03 yesterday when it fell to 87.83, the lowest since Sept. 15.