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Dollar Mixed after U.S. Retail Sales Increase

The dollar was mixed against European and Asian currencies Monday after the Commerce Department reported that retail sales edged up in March.

Exchanging Dollars and Euros
Exchanging Dollars and Euros

The 15-nation euro bought $1.5808 late New York trading, down from the $1.5835 it bought Friday. Britain's pound rose to $1.9747 from $1.9724.

The dollar climbed to 1.0009 Swiss francs from 0.9988 Swiss francs and edged down to 1.0200 Canadian dollars from 1.0230 Canadian dollars. The U.S. currency was unchanged at 101.01 Japanese yen .

The Commerce Department reported Monday that retail sales rose 0.2 percent in March after a 0.4 percent decline in February, led by a 1.1 percent jump in sales at gasoline service stations. Economists said the March report did nothing to dispel recession worries. Last week, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for early April plunged to the lowest reading in 26 years, reflecting in part a third straight month of job losses in March and a rise in the unemployment rate.

Last week, the Group of Seven countries released a communique promising vigilance over the rapid decline of the U.S. currency in recent weeks — the group's first shift in rhetoric in four years.

"There have been at times sharp fluctuations in major currencies, and we are concerned about their possible implications for economic and financial stability," the G-7 said.

On Thursday, the European Central Bank — with its eye on fighting high inflation — kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4 percent, while the Bank of England cut its rate by a quarter percentage point to 5 percent. The U.S. Federal Reserve has cut its key federal funds rate six times since September to 2.25 percent in a bid to bolster the economy.

Lower interest rates can weigh on a nation's currency as traders transfer funds to countries where they can earn higher returns.

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