NEW YORK — The dollar drifted mostly lower Friday on worldwide currency markets as traders awaited the government's latest merchandise trade report due out next week.
Gold prices were higher. Republic National Bank in New York quoted a bid of $461.75 for ounce of gold as of 4 p.m. EDT, up 75 cents from late Thursday.
Currency traders said market activity was largely affected by technical factors, although dealers were also looking toward Wednesday's release of the August merchandise trade report.
"People are beginning to focus on next week's trade numbers," said Mark Chandler, a currency analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds. "As the trade day approaches, they're liquidating . . . positions."
He said the general sentiment is that the report won't show a significant improvement in the nation's trade imbalance. The government reported a record deficit of $16.5 billion in July.
In Tokyo, where trading ends before Europe's business day begins, the dollar fell for the fourth straight day, closing at 144.40 Japanese yen from 145.18 yen Thursday. It slipped further to 143.80 in London. Later, in New York, the dollar stood at 143.675 yen, down from 144.175.
In London, the British pound rose to $1.6490 from $1.6420. Sterling fetched $1.6535 in New York, higher than $1.64925 late Thursday.
Other late dollar rates in New York, compared to late Thursday, included: 1.8105 West German marks, down from 1.8131; 1.5010 Swiss francs, down from 1.51000; 1.30655 Canadian dollars, unchanged; 6.03110 French francs, down from 6.0400, and 1,306.50 Italian lire, down from 1,308.50.
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