The U.S. dollar hit new highs against French and Italian currencies in Europe yesterday, despite late selling by profit-takers and central bank intervention.
"The scenario has stayed pretty much the same: strong on U.S. interest rates, nervous about bank intervention," said Henry Weiland of Credit Suisse in New York.
At the same time, grain and soybean futures prices hit new highs on the Chicago Board of Trade, finishing a week of sharp gains with a major weather-related rally.
But the stock market ended its week by edging higher in lackluster trading. The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, which lost 14.73 points Thursday after rebounding from a 25-point plunge, inched up 0.20 point to 1,183.29 yesterday.
Big Board volume slowed to 67.85 million shares from 100.87 million Thursday.
The dollar moved forward in early trading, dealers said. Other currencies strengthened as some European central banks moved into the market and traders cashed in their profits from the dollar's surge this week.
The dollar closed the week with two new record levels. It was 8.0825 francs in Paris, against Thursday's 7.9975. In Milan, it closed at 1,591.70 lire against 1,575.05 Thursday; the previous high was 1,578.55 lire Aug. 1.
The Chicago Board of Trade rally was based entirely on the weather, said Bob Lekberg, a grain analyst with Shearson/American Express.
He noted that the 10-day forecast released yesterday called for a continuation of the hot and dry conditions that have persisted throughout the Corn Belt since the start of July.
In a major crop forecast, based on conditions as of Aug. 1, private analyst Conrad Leslie projected a nationwide corn harvest of 5.3 billion bushels. The harvest last year was 8.4 billion bushels, a record.
Leslie projected a nationwide soybean harvest of 1.8 billion bushels, down from last year's record 2.3 billion bushels.
He said the reduced harvest forecast resulted from high temperatures and light rainfall in the major growing regions from Indiana to Kansas.