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Dollar Declines Following Weak U.S. Economic Data

The dollar weakened Tuesday against other major currencies after a disappointing round of U.S. economic data.

The 13-nation euro edged up in late New York trading. The British pound , which briefly broke through $2 on Monday, rose slightly.

The dollar slipped against the yen after Japanese Finance Minister Koji Omi said he was "watching foreign exchange rate moves very closely" -- a remark viewed as a sign that Japan is worried about a further decline in the yen.

In the U.S., a private research group reported that consumer confidence fell more than expected in June as U.S. shoppers fretted about jobs. Economists closely monitor confidence because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity.

At the same time, the U.S. government reported new home sales dropped in May for the fourth time in the past five months, in another sign of continued weakness in the housing market.

U.S. economic data are being watched closely for hints on the Federal Reserve's future interest rate course. The Fed is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday to discuss interest rates.

"Any suggestion that the Fed will now look to drop its rates before the year end ... would weigh on the dollar, probably in a somewhat lasting manner," said David Jones, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Speculation about a possible Fed rate cut has coincided with expectations that the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will continue to raise their rates.

Higher interest rates, a weapon against inflation, can strengthen a currency by making investments denominated in it more attractive.