NEW YORK (AP) — The dollar fell against most major currencies Wednesday as Standard & Poor’s warning on U.S. debt early this week continued to weigh on the greenback.
Both the euro and Australian reached fresh highs against the dollar. The U.S. currency fell against the pound, Swiss franc and Canadian dollar. It rose against the Japanese yen, however.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service’s decision to downgrade its outlook on U.S. sovereign debt Monday was a reminder that the Federal Reserve has kept its monetary policy loose, “while the rest of the world is entering tightening cycles,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.
The euro jumped to $1.4513 in afternoon trading Wednesday from $1.4340 late Tuesday. Earlier, the euro hit $1.4547, surpassing a previous high in January 2010.
The dollar had advanced against the euro earlier in the week as speculation mounted that Greece would need to restructure its debt, but that fear wasn’t weighing on the euro Wednesday. Greece’s finance minister said Wednesday that the country’s debt was “absolutely sustainable.”
In the U.S., a new housing report from the Commerce Department was slightly better, showing that home construction rose 7.2 percent in March from February. Building permits, an indicator of future construction, rose 11.2 percent after hitting a five-decade low in February.
Strong earnings from technology companies in the U.S., including those from Intel Corp. and Yahoo Inc., pushed U.S. stocks higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 170 points by Wednesday afternoon.
In other trading Wednesday, the Australian dollar shot up to as much as $1.062, its highest point since it became a free-floating currency in 1983.
The British pound rose to $1.6393 from $1.6317 late Tuesday. The dollar fell to 0.8898 Swiss franc from 0.8993 and fell to 95.36 Canadian cents from 95.69 Canadian cents. Meanwhile, the dollar rose to 82.41 Japanese yen from 82.37 Japanese yen.
The dollar was lower against most other currencies in the world, including those in Hong Kong, South Korea and Mexico.
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