The euro moved above $1.39 Wednesday for the first time since February, while the yen struck a 15-year high. The dollar is sliding broadly because investors expect that the Federal Reserve will increase its support for the U.S. economy, driving down interest rates and dinging the currency's appeal for investors.
The International Monetary Fund forecast Wednesday that the U.S. economy will grow just 2.6 percent this year, below its previous estimate of 3.3 percent, and that growth will slow to 2.3 percent in 2011.
A private jobs survey by payrolls company ADP said U.S. employers cut jobs in September, the first time in seven months.
A measure of the dollar against six actively traded currencies is trading at its lowest level since January after falling nearly 7 percent in September and October.
Fed members have said they are willing to offer the economy more relief. Buying U.S. government debt would lower interest rates, which the Fed hopes would trigger more economic activity. But lower rates mean that assets bought in dollars offer investors lower returns, weighing on the dollar.
In midday trading in New York, the euro jumped to an eight-month high of $1.3929 from $1.3850 late Tuesday, while the dollar slid to a 15-year low of 82.77 Japanese yen, down from 83.18 yen Tuesday.
The yen last hit a 15-year high on Sept. 15, just before the Bank of Japan intervened in foreign exchange markets to weaken the yen.
Traders are wary of a global "currency war," in which countries try to weaken their currencies to boost exports. Japan did so this week with plans for a massive stimulus package and interest rate cut. Brazil also tried to weaken the real. European authorities are not expected to try to launch more support for the economy, however, and that has helped increase the value of the euro.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a Wednesday speech ahead of meetings of the IMF and World Bank this weekend that countries with "undervalued" currencies should let them appreciate. Although he did not name China, the speech was primarily aimed at the world's second-largest economy.
Geithner said the problem was that when large economies kept their currencies undervalued, other countries took similar actions to weaken their currencies in order to compete in global trade. That increased risks of inflation and asset bubbles in emerging economies, which could disrupt the recovery in the world economy.
In other trading Wednesday, the British pound edged up to $1.5905 from $1.5901. The dollar dropped to a new record low of 0.9608 Swiss francs from 0.9661 Swiss francs late Tuesday, and fell to 1.0070 Canadian dollars from 1.0160 Canadian dollars.
The dollar also tumbled to its weakest point versus the Australian dollar since July 2008.
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