NEW YORK, NOV. 27 -- The dollar fell to what one trader described as "ridiculously low levels" against other major currencies today on the apparent unwillingness of the U.S. government to take action to prop up the currency.
The dollar hit an all-time low against the Swiss franc in Zurich and a five-year low against the British pound in London.
The dollar's slump roused the stock market out of daylong doldrums with a selloff in the final hour of trading. Stocks closed sharply lower in thin trading as concerns over the weakened dollar and lower bond prices spurred a wave of selling.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.47 points to 1910.48. The Dow fell nearly 25 points in the final hour of trading, the busiest of the day. For the week, the blue-chip barometer lost 3.15 points.
Broader stock market indexes also declined. The New York Stock Exchange index fell 1.74 to 135.16. Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 3.76 to 240.34. The price of an average share lost 39 cents.
Declines outpaced advances 954 to 514 among the 1,896 issues traded. Big Board volume totaled 86.3 million shares, down sharply from 139.7 million traded Wednesday. It was the slowest session since Jan. 2, when 92 million shares changed hands.
Hildegard Zagorski of Prudential-Bache Securities Inc said "the lower dollar, lower bonds and strength of commodity prices ... don't make anyone too happy."
The dollar fell in New York after closing lower in Europe and in Tokyo where the Bank of Japan intervened to halt its slide.
In New York, the dollar fell to 1.6515 against the German mark, down from 1.6705 Wednesday. In Frankfurt, the dollar closed at 1.6587 against the mark, down from Thursday's 1.6669.
The American currency dropped to an all-time low in Zurich, closing at 1.3617 Swiss francs against Thursday's final close of 1.3675. The previous low closing was 1.3657 francs on Nov. 20.
In Zurich, a dealer said, "The market is simply extremely bearish about the dollar."
In New York, the British pound rose to $1.8135 from $1.7915 on Wednesday. Earlier in London, it rose to $1.8060 from Thursday's $1.7940 close.
London traders said today's finish was the sterling's highest against the dollar in five years.
In Tokyo, it fell to 133.75 yen, the lowest since Nov. 10, when it hit a record low of 133.65. Thursday's final rate was 134.75 yen. In New York, the dollar closed at 133.45 yen, down from Wednesday's 134.86.
Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the dollar did not trade in New York on Thursday. Japanese and European exchanges, however, were open.
Bear Stearns & Co. chief foreign exchange trader Samuel Lek expressed frustration, saying, "The U.S. government is willing to let the dollar fall into ridiculously low levels against the mark and yen."
Gold prices also were lower. Republic National Bank in New York closed cash gold at $486.25 an ounce, up from $476.75 on Wednesday.
Silver rose to $7.14 from $6.93 on Wednesday on the cash market. The COMEX settled silver at $7.135 an ounce, up from $6.928 an ounce on Wednesday.