The dollar continued its recent run of choppy trading on Tuesday amid the release of another round of mixed data from the US housing front.
Traders were also focused on developments from Europe, hoping for some resolution on the Greek debt crisis. However, Germany indicated that aid to Greece will not be discussed at this week’s European Union meeting in Brussels, fueling concerns that Athens may default on its sovereign debt.
In news from Washington, DC, President Obama signed the Senate health care bill into law at the White House this morning. Stocks have held their recent gains over the past few days, with shares health care companies rising on hopes reform will attract more customers.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was on Capitol Hill calling for the U.S. mortgage finance system to be restructured.
“Private gains can no longer be supported by the umbrella of public protection, capital standards must be higher and excessive risk-taking must be appropriately restrained,” Geithner said in testimony prepared for delivery to the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.
The buck gave back its early gains versus the euro after US existing home sales figures came in slightly better than expected, fueling a modest increase in risk appetite.
Existing home sales saw a modest decrease in the month of February, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Tuesday, with modest gains in the Northeast and Midwest offset by softer sales in the South and West.
In mid-afternoon trading in New York, the dollar was at 1.3550 versus the euro, down about a penny from Monday’s high mark. Earlier in March, the dollar touched a 9-month high of 1.3434.
European consumer confidence was more or less unchanged in March, a flash estimate from the European Commission showed. With consumer spending on pause and economic growth stagnant, the European Central Bank will likely hold off on any interest rate increases through 2010.
The dollar was also little changed on the day versus the sterling, losing a penny from its early highs to trade at last night’s 1.5080 levels.
Against the yen, the buck continued to bounce back and forth around the Y90 mark, unable to break out of March’s narrow trading range.
Several board members of the Bank of Japan felt that the risks to the Japanese economy are starting to find balance, minutes from the bank’s February 17-18 policy meeting showed on Tuesday.
The minutes also showed that the board believes that the effects of monetary policy are strengthening, but the bank must continue to act swiftly and decisively to support the economy.
The dollar was steady near C$1.02 versus the loonie, having touched a year and a half low within a cent of parity last week.
Canada’s leading index rose 0.8 % in February after a 0.7% advance in January, official data revealed Tuesday.
San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Janet Yellen, expected to be named number two at the Federal Reserve, may also garner attention, as she is set to offer her latest remarks on the economic outlook and central bank independence.