NEW YORK — The dollar firmed against most major currencies Monday in quiet trading.
Gold prices edged lower in domestic activity. At 4 p.m. EST, Republic National Bank of New York quoted gold bullion at $481 an ounce, down from $482.50 late Friday.
Analysts who follow the foreign exchange markets said year-end trading was giving the dollar some support as traders closed out speculative positions.
"Call it short-covering or clearing the books . . . people are taking profits and shutting down for the year," said Karen Gibbs, an analyst for Dean Witter Reynolds in Chicago.
Gibbs said the year-end activity would likely continue through the end of next week. Traders who had "shorted" the dollar, or sold borrowed dollars in anticipation of buying the currency back later at a lower price, must buy dollars now to get their profit on the books before the end of the year, she said.
Those still active in the market were said to be moving cautiously in advance of new monthly trade figures to be released Thursday by the Commerce Department.
"The market is directionless, with people uncommitted ahead of Thursday's U.S. trade figures," a currency dealer in London said.
Analysts said the trade report for October is expected to show the U.S. trade deficit unchanged from September's $14.1-billion shortfall.
In Tokyo, where the trading day begins, the dollar closed at 132.63 Japanese yen, up 0.03 yen. Later in London, it was quoted at 132.85 yen. In New York, the dollar brought 132.98 yen, up from 132.30 late Friday.
In London, the dollar gained against the British pound. It cost $1.7950 to buy one pound, cheaper than $1.7980 late Friday. Later in New York, the pound fetched $1.7856, down from $1.7935.
Other late dollar rates in New York, compared to late Friday, included: 1.6790 West German marks, up from 1.6682; 1.3690 Swiss francs, up from 1.3615; 5.6850 French francs, up from 5.6485; 1,236.25 Italian lire, up from 1,227.50, and 1.3102 Canadian dollars, down from 1.3124.
Late dollar rates in Europe, compared to rates late Friday, included: 1.6695 West German marks, up from 1.6650; 1.3635 Swiss francs, up from 1.3582; 5.6612 French francs, up from 5.6432; 1.8775 Dutch guilders, up from 1.8710; 1,231.25 Italian lire, up from 1,225.25, and 1.3112 Canadian dollars, up from 1.3105.
Gold prices were mixed in Europe. Gold rose slightly in London to $481.75 an ounce, compared to $480.25 late Friday. It was lower in Zurich, Switzerland, closing at a bid price of $481, compared to $482.50.
Earlier, in Hong Kong, gold rose 68 cents to close at a bid of $482.58.
At the New York Commodity Exchange, gold bullion for current delivery was quoted at a late bid of $481.15, off from $482.90.
Silver bullion prices fell on the London market, where the metal was trading at a late bid price of $6.71 an ounce, compared to $6.74.
At the New York Comex, silver for current delivery brought $6.670, down from $6.740.
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