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CURRENCY : Yen Declines in Wake of Scandal; Gold Prices Fall

From Associated Press

The dollar headed sharply higher Monday against all key currencies, particularly the Japanese yen, in thin post-holiday trading.

Gold prices declined. Republic National Bank of New York said gold was bid at $390 an ounce as of 4 p.m. EST, down $2 from late Thursday.

There was virtually no trading Friday in celebration of Good Friday. The European financial markets were closed for the Easter holiday until Tuesday, while many U.S. financial centers had scaled down operations Monday.

Earl I. Johnson, a currency trader with Harris Trust & Co. in Chicago, said the dollar’s advance was mainly at the yen’s expense. The yen declined partly in reaction to a political scandal in Japan.

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“This is really a story of weak yen, more so than a strong dollar,” he said.

Johnson said higher oil prices due to the massive oil spill in Alaska also supported the dollar.

In Tokyo, where global trading begins, the dollar closed at 132.30 yen, up 1.03 yen from Friday’s close. Later, in New York, the dollar stood at 132.70 yen, up from 131.475 yen Thursday.

The dollar rose against the British pound, with sterling fetching $1.7085, compared to $1.7195 Thursday.

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Other late dollar rates in New York, compared to late Thursday, included: 1.8834 West German marks, up from 1.87375; 1.6415 Swiss francs, up from 1.6275; 1.19305 Canadian dollars, up from 1.1905; 6.36375 French francs, up from 6.3400, and 1,381.25 Italian lire, up from 1,376.88.

On the Commodity Exchange in New York, gold bullion for current delivery closed at $391.10 an ounce, down from $392.80 Thursday.

Silver prices also declined. On New York’s Comex, silver bullion for current delivery finished at $5.946 an ounce, compared to $6.008 Thursday.


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