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The U.S. dollar and euro fell sharply in late afternoon trade as uncertainty about Italy's elections and sharp losses in stocks led investors to unwind trades funded in yen.
The euro hit a six-week low against the dollar Friday, heading for a third straight week of losses, after the European Central Bank said banks will repay less than half the expected amount of loans.
After several lackluster years, the $5 trillion foreign exchange market has bolted back to life with institutional investors leading the charge and banks standing to gain from the activity.
The euro dropped to a six-week low against the dollar and a three-week trough against the yen Thursday in the wake of data showing a struggling euro zone economy.
The dollar jumped to a four-week high after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting suggested policymakers may have to slow or stop buying assets before seeing the pick-up in hiring.
The yen rose Tuesday as disagreement between Japanese officials raised doubts over how aggressively Japan will ease its monetary policy.
The yen weakened across the board on Monday after Japan escaped direct criticism from its G-20 peers on its bold reflationary plans that have weakened the currency.
Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan dismissed talk of a 'currency war' in an interview with CNBC, but concedes that a strong Australian dollar is a concern for an economy that's heavily reliant on mining exports.
The Group of 20 nations declared on Saturday there would be no 'currency war' and deferred plans to set new debt-cutting targets in an indication of concern about the fragile state of the world economy.
The yen fell Friday after three days of gains against the U.S. dollar and the euro as a draft statement from the G-20 did not single out Japan trying to weaken its currency.
As G-20 finance chiefs from around the world meet on Friday to discuss fears of competitive currency devaluations, policymakers told CNBC that talk of a currency war was misplaced and discussions should instead focus on a how to heal the still fragile global economy.
The euro tumbled to a three-week low against the dollar and plunged against the yen Thursday after data painted a dismal picture of the euro zone's economy, increasing the likelihood of ECB action.
The yen traded flat against the dollar Wednesday, a day after sharply rising, as investors grew cautious ahead of a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers later this week.
The yen rebounded Tuesday, rising from a nearly three-year low against the dollar hit during the previous session, after a G7 official said a statement was meant to express "concern about excess moves" in the Japanese currency.
The euro rose against the dollar and yen on Monday after incurring heavy losses for three straight days as an ECB policymaker dismissed talk of intervening to weaken the currency.
The yen jumped Friday after Japan's finance minister said the currency's recent drop had gone too far, too fast, and doubts crept in about aggressive Bank of Japan action.
The euro plunged against the dollar and yen on Thursday after ECB President Mario Draghi said the euro exchange rate was important to growth and price stability.
The euro slipped, with traders taking more cautious positions ahead of the ECB meeting in case its president Mario Draghi expresses concern about the high level of the euro.
The euro rose against the dollar and yen Tuesday as better-than-expected euro zone data affirmed expectations that the European Central Bank will keep policy steady when it meets this week.