The dollar slid again on European exchanges yesterday but then recovered against several currencies in New York. Meanwhile, the price of gold shot up by as much as $22 an ounce in New York and finished at $435.80 yesterday.
Bullion dealers cautioned that the gold price surge probably would not turn into a sustained rally, although the price could go over $450 an ounce this week. Earlier in the day, gold had climbed to $418.75 in London and $422.50 in Zurich.
The dollar plunged worldwide on Monday, and fell further in Europe yesterday. But by the end of the day in New York, it had picked up against the mark from Monday's rate of 2.489 to close at 2.5020, against the yen from 228.9 to 229.3, and against the Swiss franc from 2.1663 to 2.1790.
Dealers attributed the recovery mainly to the belief that U.S. interest rates will remain high. They said that the plunge on Monday and early yesterday was partly a reaction to the extraordinary run-up in the dollar's value in recent weeks and was helped by sales of dollars by foreign central banks trying to shore up their currencies.
In addition, some dealers had feared that the Federal Reserve would decide to ease up on money and credit at its policy meeting yesterday. But when the federal funds rate -- the interest banks charge one another for overnight loans -- stayed high after opening at about 20 percent, sentiment shifted back toward the dollar, one dealer said.
High interest rates have been a major factor behind the dollar's strength so far this year, although experts believe that the interest-rate gap between the United States and other major countries is not sufficient to explain all the dollar's gains. Currencies often overreact to economic events such as interest rates or trade movements. Some of the dollar's buoyancy can be attributed to a general strengthening of overseas confidence in the United States because of the Reagan adminstration's proposed changes in economic policy, dealers say.
Europeans have asked the adminstration to ease up on interest rates and to fight inflation with a tougher fiscal policy to take the pressure off their currencies. But the president refused at the economic summit in Ottawa to switch his policies.
The dollar's rise helps in the inflation fight by holding down the costs of imports, which are denominated in foreign currency. This, in turn, puts pressure on domestic manufacturers to hold down costs and prices, according to some economists.
However, the rise will hurt exporting industries and firms such as autos which face severe competition from overseas. The "terribly strong dollar" will slow the economy next year, economist George Perry said yesterday. This is one way that the tight-money policy advocated by the administraton and pursued by the Federal Reserve feeds into the real economy.
Currency markets have been particularly volatile in the last week as dealers have wondered whether the dollar's climb was overdone, a New York dealer said yesterday. But the U.S. currency remains "fundamentally stable," he said.
The dollar's rise, coupled with the economic slowdown in Europe, could worsen the trade balance later this year. If the balance-of-trade deficit widens, that, in turn, could weaken support for the dollar in foreign exchange markets, one analyst said.