The dollar bounced up and down in fairly active trading yesterday, finally ending higher on all European markets.
There was good news and bad news, but none of it conclusive. Counted as a plus was a speech by a Common Market commissioner urging the oil cartel to announce to the world that it will continue pricing oil in dollars.
On the other side was a report credited to the Iranian official news agency, Pars, saying the Iranian Central Bank had recommended to the ruling revolutionary council in Iran that the acceptance of dollars as payment for oil be halted. Later, Pars appeared to have withdrawn the announcement.
Other sources in Iran in the past few days have indicated that Iran would like to stop accepting dollars for oil and is casting about for a way to do so.
The Common Market commissioner who appealed to OPEC to stay with the dollar was Guido Brunner, in charge of energy for the European countries. Speaking in Offenbach, West Germany, Brunner said:
"The dollar is, for all countries, the only viable currency of reference. Neither gold nor any other currency or basket of currencies can take over the dollar's role. To try to bypass the dollar as a world currency would be to stir up a devil's brew of difficulties for the world economy and the international monetary system."
To calm things, Brunner called on OPEC to make clear at its ministerial meeting Dec. 17 in Caracas, Venezuela, that the cartel will keep the dollar as the reference currency for oil.
Meanwhile, Belgium's major oil company, Petrofina, said it has been asked by the National Iranian Oil co. to stop making payments to U.S. banks. But Petrofina wasn't asked to switch from dollars.
The only other related development of any interest was a report from Tokyo that Toshikazu Hashimoto, a senior adviser to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, will leave Thursday for a trip to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iran.
Coincidentally, Treasury Secretary G. William Miller will be visiting Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates about the same time.
Japan reportedly has been tempted to pick up additional supplies of oil in European spot markets -- now better stocked with Iranian oil. But the United States hopes that Japan and its other partners won't buy Iranian oil at above-OPEC ceiling prices. A Dow Jones dispatch from Tokyo said that Japan also is interested in finding out whether a promise made by former Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan is still good.
That promise from Barzagan -- sacked by the Ayatollah Khomeini -- was to consider an increase of 30 percent in direct Iranian sales to Japan.
The dollar dipped again in Tokyo to 245.70 yen, from 246.30 Monday. But it was up to 1.7635 marks from 1.7605 in Frankfurt and scored similar gains elsewhere in Europe.
In Zurich the dollar rose to 1.64275 Swiss francs from 1.63675; in Brussels to 29.065 Belgian francs from 29.05; in Amsterdam to 1.97 guilders from 1.9690 and in Milan to 825.20 lire from 823.45.
The British pound, meanwhile, fell to $2.1680 from $2.1860 Monday. Gold also edged down in London from $390.50 Monday to $388.50 yesterday.
The treasury said there were no developments or new interpretations of the administration order freezing Iranian assets here and abroad.