NEW YORK — The dollar slipped fractionally lower against most major currencies in quiet trading Monday while gold prices were mixed.
Republic National Bank of New York quoted a bid of $440 for an ounce of gold as of 4 p.m. EST, down 50 cents from Friday's late price.
Analysts said currency trading was dominated by technical factors, although the dollar did strengthen briefly on reported comments by Federal Reserve Board Governor H. Robert Heller and Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III.
"Heller said the dollar is at a good level to sustain (shrinkage of) the trade gap," said Marc Chandler, an analyst at the Chicago office of the investment firm Dean Witter Reynolds. "Baker said the Canada-U.S. trade pact could be a model for a new trade strategy, and that Japan, Taiwan and South Korea had expressed interest in a similar pact."
Both comments lent support to the U.S. currency, he said, because they indicated that the Reagan Administration was not determined to rely on continuing devaluations of the dollar as its only means of bringing the U.S. trade deficit into balance.
But trading remained quiet while the market awaited Friday's release of December trade figures.
Masakazu Miyamori, chief foreign exchange trader at Sanwa Bank, also said the two comments helped keep the dollar stable.
Gains Against Pound
"But actually, the dollar moved only in a small range," he added. "It was mostly technical, with nothing fundamental directly moving the market."
In Tokyo, where trading ends as Europe's business day begins, the dollar rose 0.75 Japanese yen to a closing 129.30 yen. Later, in London, it was quoted at 128.63 yen. In New York it stood at 128.94 yen, down from 129.35 yen on Friday.
The dollar gained against the British pound. The pound was quoted at $1.7550 in London late Monday, compared to $1.7595 late Friday, and at $1.7494 in New York, down from $1.7530.
Other late dollar rates in New York, compared to late Friday's prices, included: 1.7012 West German marks, down from 1.7025; 1.3917 Swiss francs, down from 1.3950; 1.2668 Canadian dollars, down from 1.2685; 5.7410 French francs, down from 5.7470 and 1,250.75 Italian lire, down from 1,252.00.
Other late dollar rates in Europe, compared to late Friday's rates, included: 1.7010 West German marks, up from 1.6940; 1.3875 Swiss francs, unchanged; 5.7265 French francs, up from 5.7185; 1.9085 Dutch guilders, up from 1.9030; 1,253.32 Italian lire, up from 1,245.625, and 1.2665 Canadian dollars, unchanged.
At the New York Commodity Exchange, gold was up $1 an ounce, at $440.40, compared to $439.40 Friday.
Gold rose in London to a late bid price of $443.50 from $439.
Gold was also higher in Zurich, Switzerland, closing at a bid $442.50, compared to $441.50.
Earlier, in Hong Kong, gold rose 26 cents to close at a bid $443.13, compared to Saturday's 442.87.
Silver bullion prices rose slightly in London, trading at a late bid price of $6.34 an ounce, compared to Friday's $6.32. Later, at the Comex in New York, silver traded at $6.297, compared to $6.295.