BASEL, SWITZERLAND, NOV. 8 -- Central bankers from the United States, Japan, West Germany and eight other major industrial nations today held a first round of secretive talks on prospects for ending the upheaval in world financial markets.
The officials had little to say after emerging from a nearly three-hour working dinner, except to confirm that they would continue their discussions on Monday.
''All I can say is that we had a very good dinner,'' said Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. central bank.
Asked by a reporter if the meeting had included a discussion of interest rates, Greenspan said only, ''I can't say.''
Pressed for comment about Japan's interest-rate policy, Bank of Japan Governor Satoshi Sumita said the central bank would continue to resist a cut in its key discount rate, at least for the time being.
The central bankers, apparently concerned by the fragile state of the financial markets, were unusually careful to avoid making offhand remarks to reporters.
Robin Leigh-Pemberton, governor of the Bank of England, became visibly angered by reporters' questions as he returned to his hotel. At one point he snapped: ''Look here ... your presence here is not welcome.''
The meeting, at the headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements, began amid widespread doubts about the ability of the major trading nations to halt the dollar's recent slide.
Hurt by perceptions among traders that Washington is unable to forge a coherent economic policy, the dollar has lost nearly 7 percent of its value against the West German mark and 6 percent against the Japanese yen in the past two weeks. The plunge ended eight months of relative stability for the U.S. currency.
The central bankers' meeting is the first such gathering since world financial markets fell into crisis with a record 508-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average on Black Monday, Oct. 19. About a week later, the dollar began its downward spiral.
Foreign-exchange traders had indicated at the close of Friday's dealings that they were looking to this week's Basel meeting for possible clues to the future direction of the financial markets.
Jacques Delors, who was representing the European Community at the central bankers' meeting, said Friday that he believed the session would be limited mainly to an exchange of information and views rather than produce major policy initiatives.