Dollar down in New Year's eve trade

LONDON: The dollar drifted lower against major rival currencies on Thursday in quiet trade running into the year-end holiday weekend, dealers say.

In London morning deals, the European single currency rose to 1.4401 dollars from 1.4341 dollars in New York late on Wednesday.

Against the Japanese currency on Thursday, the greenback slid to 92.35 yen, from 92.42 on Wednesday.

Foreign exchange market deals were subdued with many traders away for the New Year celebrations and Japan's financial markets closed.

"Markets are relatively stable today, turnover is low as we are ending the year and traders do not want to take bets," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist with SJS Markets financial advisory firm in Hong Kong.

Later Thursday, dealers will digest initial weekly jobless claims from the United States at 1330 GMT.

"On this New Year's eve, the macroeconomic newsflow is, without surprise, of a very limited intensity," said New Edge analysts in a note to clients.

"On the US side, the session's main data will be the jobless claims, though they are unlikely, per se, to be a market moving in such an indifferent market."

Since the start of 2009, the European shared currency has risen by more than two percent in value against the dollar.

However, the greenback has managed to claw back some ground in December against the euro.

"The dollar rally which has taken place in December is significant in that it has brought an end to the powerful down-trend which had been in place since March following the US Federal Reserve's decision to begin quantitative easing," said economist Lee Hardman at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

"The scale of the dollar rally to date reflects the extent of position adjustment which has occurred during the month -- given that the market had been positioned overwhelming for continued dollar weakness into year-end."

Kowalczyk added that hopes for a US economic recovery further strengthened following an unexpected rise in the closely-watched purchasing managers index (PMI) of the Chicago branch of the Institute for Supply Management.

Data released late Wednesday showed the PMI rising to a seasonally adjusted 60.0 in December, up from 56.1 in November and against analyst expectations of a fall.

In London, the euro was changing hands at 1.4401 dollars against 1.4341 dollars late on Wednesday, 133.00 yen (132.52), 0.8933 pounds (0.8917) and 1.4850 Swiss francs (1.4862).

The dollar stood at 92.35 yen (92.42) and 1.0312 Swiss francs (1.0359).

The pound was at 1.6121 dollars (1.6078).

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to 1,105.20 dollars an ounce from 1,087.50 dollars on Wednesday.