The re-energized dollar strengthened further in New York trading Wednesday, though it appeared to stall early today in Tokyo.
Elsewhere, key foreign stock markets got a boost from the dollar’s rise, while U.S. stocks were mixed for a second day--with multinational blue chips falling and smaller stocks advancing.
In New York, the dollar climbed to 97.78 Japanese yen on Wednesday from 96.94 on Tuesday after briefly topping 99 yen in overnight trading in Tokyo.
At midday today in Tokyo, the dollar was quoted at 97.60 yen as buyers pulled back somewhat. Some analysts said traders are awaiting the U.S. government’s June trade deficit report, to be released today.
Against the German mark, the dollar eased to 1.475 in Tokyo early today, after closing at 1.4782 in New York on Wednesday, up from 1.4778 the day before.
The dollar’s stunning rebound to six-month highs, fueled by coordinated dollar buying on the part of the world’s major central banks, has caught bearish traders by surprise. Other market players have piled on, believing that the downbeaten dollar has been overdue for a rebound.
On Wednesday, trading slowed substantially as players in the global currency market reflected on the dollar’s turn. “People are regrouping, adjusting their positions,” said one dealer at a major U.S. investment bank.
Some traders said the dollar was pressured against the mark after the German central bank failed to push money market rates lower there, as had been hoped.
But analysts noted that any positive surprise in the U.S. trade deficit report today could spark a fresh frenzy for dollars. A shrinking deficit would mean that the dollar’s fundamental problem--too many greenbacks leaving the United States--might be lessening.
Meanwhile, world stock markets took their cue from the dollar’s turnabout. Japanese and German shares surged on the expectation that a rising dollar will restore competitiveness to struggling Japanese and German companies.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei-225 index zoomed 706.01 points, or 4.1%, to a six-month high of 18,158.73. At midday today, the Nikkei was off 97.16 points to 18,061.57.
In Frankfurt, the DAX index shot up 25.25 points, or 1.1%, to 2,252.86, a 1995 high. The Paris CAC-40 index rose 1.2% and London’s FTSE-100 index added 0.6%.
On Wall Street, however, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 1.76 points to 4,639.08 after trading in a narrow range all day.
The Dow was held back by profit taking in key U.S. multinational stocks whose overseas earnings may be clipped by the stronger dollar.
But stocks of smaller companies, many of which are more dependent on the U.S. economy’s fortunes, ignored the dollar and advanced Wednesday. The Russell 2,000 index of smaller stocks rose 1.68 points to a record 302.35.
And the Nasdaq composite index leaped 13.38 points to a record 1,025.75 as technology stocks soared anew--despite the fact that many of them are dependent on foreign sales.
Overall, winners topped losers by 14 to 9 on the New York Stock Exchange and by 19 to 15 on Nasdaq, as trading reached the highest levels since late July.
Stocks were supported by the bond market, where yields closed slightly lower. The yield on the Treasury’s 30-year bond slipped to 6.88% from 6.89% on Tuesday.
The bond market seemed little fazed by the government’s report that housing starts shot up 6.7% in July, the fourth straight monthly advance and the biggest in 16 months. That may indicate renewed strength in the economy.
Among Wednesday’s highlights:
* Multinational stocks leading the Dow lower included Procter & Gamble, off 1 1/8 to 67 1/4; Eastman Kodak, down 1 1/4 to 58 7/8; Coca-Cola, down 1 to 64 1/2, and Mobil, down 1 1/8 to 93 7/8.
* The latest buying wave in technology stocks was sparked by a strong quarterly earnings report from Applied Materials, which makes equipment used to manufacture semiconductors. Applied’s shares soared 14 1/2 to a record 118 1/4 on Nasdaq.
Hewlett-Packard also zoomed, up 4 5/8 to 82 1/2, after it also reported better-than-expected earnings.
“Techs will remain the leaders of the stock market for the time being, because the performances are there with these good earnings,” said Robert Freedman, chief investment officer at John Hancock Mutual Funds in Boston.
Other tech stocks advancing included Intel, up 1 1/4 to 66 3/4; Adobe Systems, up 4 to 63 1/4; Sun Microsystems, up 3 3/8 to 57 1/4; Seagate, up 3 1/8 to 47 1/2, and Cabletron Systems, up 2 3/8 to 55 7/8.
* Some industrial stocks advanced, perhaps on optimism that the global economy may pick up steam if growth improves in Japan and Germany. Caterpillar gained 2 1/4 to 68, Alcoa jumped 2 1/2 to 58 1/4 and USX-U.S. Steel rose 7/8 to 32 1/4.
* Utility stocks showed new strength. The Dow utility index jumped 2.05 points to 202.81. Rising utility stocks often portend lower interest rates.
Markets Roundup, D6