The yen was about 0.4 percent from the strongest level in three weeks against the dollar and the Swiss franc climbed to a record as an uprising in Libya sent oil to a 29-month high, boosting demand for safer assets.
The yen and the franc headed for weekly gains against most of their major counterparts as stocks and commodities dropped worldwide. The dollar traded within 0.2 percent of a three-week low against the euro before a report forecast to show U.S. pending home sales declined in January.
“It’s a new scenario where the market is battling as global economic growth is being thwarted by higher oil prices, and that’s being reflected immediately in the U.S. dollar,” said Kurt Magnus, executive director of currency sales at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Sydney. “The Swiss franc and yen will continue to do well, they are incredibly safe-haven currencies.”
The yen was at 81.93 per dollar as of 8:10 a.m. in Tokyo from 81.89 in New York yesterday, when it touched 81.63, the strongest since Feb. 4. It has gained 1.5 percent this week against the dollar. The franc climbed to a record 92.28 centimes per dollar before trading at 92.55 from 92.64 yesterday.