The dollar tumbled to its lowest level in two weeks today in response to the sluggish 2.7 percent third-quarter growth in the gross national product and uncertainty over how to interpret the drop in oil prices. Gold fell.
James McGroarty, vice president at Discount Corp. of New York, said the negative sentiment that prevailed the previous day was reinforced by the lower GNP number and the slight rise in the price deflator, which could indicate inflation is picking up.
"But the drop in oil prices makes it difficult to project where the dollar will go from here," McGroarty said.
"If you view the lower oil prices as disinflationary -- a tax cut for the world -- it is positive for the dollar," he said. "The U.S. stock and bond markets will do well and Europeans could buy dollars to go into those investments.
"On the other hand, if people believe the Fed will have room to maneuver and bring interest rates down, it could be negative for the dollar," McGroarty said.
"We all are pretty sure that there's still a very large shortage of dollars," he said. "But there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty among commercial buyers, who want to wait to see if the dollar goes lower. If it doesn't they could throw in the towel and buy."
"What all is this creates is an environment where we could see the dollar at either 2.98 German marks or 3.20 marks next week," he said.
The British pound rebounded after a miserable week that saw it beset by worries about an oil price war and the nationwide miner's strike stretching deep into the winter.
Despite a gain against the dollar, sterling fell to a record low against a group of 10 major currencies. With 1975 equalling 100, the Sterling Index fell to 74 at the close.
In London, the pound closed at $1.1915, up from Thursday's record low of $1.1860. In New York sterling finished at $1.1951, up from $1.1920.
The Canadian dollar, however, fell to 75.34 U.S. cents from 75.45.
European closing rates with late New York prices and comparable Thursday rates in parentheses:
Frankfurt, 3.0707 marks, down from 3.1302 (3.0690 vs. 3.0960); Paris, 9.4325 francs, down from 9.5525 (9.4160 vs. 9.5150); Zurich, 2.5345 Swiss francs, down from 2.5525 (2.53 vs. 2.5340); Milan, 1,906.25 lire, down from 1,930.25 (1,897.53 vs. 1,915.71).
In overnight Tokyo trading the dollar plunged to 248.15 yen from 249.30. In New York it was 247.22 yen, down from 248.51.
Gold fell despite the weaker dollar. In Zurich it fell $1 to $338.50 and in London it also finished at $338.50, down from $340.25.
In New York, Republic National Bank closed cash gold at $338.75 an ounce, down from $340.75 Wednesday. The New York Commodity Exchange settled the October contract at $338.70, down from $340.60.
Silver fell to $7.225 an ounce from $7.29 on the cash market. The Comex settled it at $7.218, down from $7.305.