September 12, 2008


The dollar weakened against other major currencies yesterday as investors worried about the health of the U.S. economy after the nationalisation of two mortgage finance giants over the weekend. The euro rose to $1.4134 around 2100 GMT from $1.4129 late Monday in New York. Against the Japanese currency, the dollar fell sharply to 106.89 yen from 108.27 yen on Monday. The dollar on Monday had hit an 11-month high against the euro at $1.4045 on news of the federal bailout Sunday of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), which underpin nearly half of the US housing sector. But the euphoria faded, leaving markets on edge. The unease was exacerbated by fears of a meltdown at investment firm Lehman Brothers that prompted heavy selling on Wall Street. "While the news of the U.S. government's seizure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led risky assets to gain throughout the financial markets, we've seen investor confidence dwindle as traders become skeptical of the long-term benefits of the intervention," said Terri Belkas, analyst at Foreign Capital Markets. Andrew Busch at BMO Capital Markets underscored the unforeseen implications of the extraordinary government action. "As the smoke clears and cooler number crunchers prevail, the take-over/ conservator ship of the GSEs is getting some skeptics," Busch said. "From the taxpayer footing the bill to the expansion of the U.S. government into the financial markets, worries hang over the longer term implications are swirling." Some dealers said the plan could also become costly for the U.S. taxpayer without repairing the fundamental problems of the housing market. "There are many areas in the government's plan that remains unclear and fresh concerns have cropped up over the U.S. economy, including its finances," said Chuo Mitsui Trust Bank chief strategist Yosuke Hosokawa. "Markets are questioning: is the U.S. really alright?" In late New York trade, the dollar fell to 1.1265 Swiss francs from 1.1311. The pound rose to $1.7611 from 1.7582. Guardian.

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