The dollar edged lower Tuesday against most key currencies in directionless trading after rising overseas.
Gold prices were mixed. At the Republic National Bank of New York, the late bid for gold was $469.50 an ounce, up 25 cents from Monday.
The dollar started out stronger after the government released a report showing orders for big-ticket durable goods jumped 6.7% in December, the fastest clip in more than a year.
However, the currency declined later in the session on what some dealers termed technical factors and profit taking.
"The market doesn't really have any direction," said Earl I. Johnson, a trader for Harris Trust & Co. in Chicago.
He said the currency market remains "fixated" on the nation's trade picture and currently awaits the release of the December merchandise trade report, which is due out in mid-February.
A large increase in the nation's deficit is likely to depress the dollar, dealers say.
Meanwhile, Dan Holland, a trader at Discount Corp., said the market also was awaiting more clues as to the economy's direction. The government is scheduled to release today a report on the the fourth-quarter gross national product.
British Pound Dips
In Tokyo, where global trading begins, the dollar rose to 127.55 Japanese yen from 127.45. The dollar continued to advance in London, closing at 127.75 yen. Later, in New York, the dollar stood at 127.675 yen, down from 127.95.
One British pound cost $1.7675 in London, cheaper than Monday's late $1.7735. Sterling fetched $1.77425 in New York, up from $1.76825.
Other late dollar rates in New York, compared to late Monday, were: 1.67275 West German marks, down from 1.68325; 1.3570 Swiss francs, down from 1.36385; 1.27895 Canadian dollars, up from 1.2785; 5.6430 French francs, down from 5.66025, and 1,230.50 Italian lire, down from 1,235.70.
Late rates in Europe, compared to Monday, were: 1.6775 West German marks, unchanged; 1.3600 Swiss francs, up from 1.3595; 5.6575 French francs, up from 5.6495; 1.8845 Dutch guilders, up from 1.8825; 1.2807 Canadian dollars, up from 1.2797, and 1,233.25 Italian lire, up from 1,230.37.
At New York's Commodity Exchange, gold bullion for current delivery was quoted at $469.10 an ounce, down from $469.30 on Monday.
Gold closed in London at a bid $469.50 an ounce, down from $470.50.
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