The U.S. dollar retreated against most major currencies Thursday and it fell versus the Japanese yen on larger demand for safe assets after a Malaysian passenger jet crashed in eastern Ukraine.
A Malaysian Airliner crashed Thursday in Ukraine near the Russian border, with all the 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board feared killed.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the plane could have been shot down, but insisted the Ukrainian Armed Forces had nothing to do with it. As the market feared tensions in the area escalated and sought safe-haven assets for protection, the yen strengthened against the dollar and soared to a five-month high versus the euro.
U.S. economic data released Thursday came out mixed. U.S. Commerce Department Thursday reported that privately-owned housing starts in June fell sharply by 9.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000, the lowest in nine months.
However, the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits last week declined 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000, said the U.S. Labor Department.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3527 U.S. dollars from 1.3523 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.7113 U.S. dollars from 1.7134 dollars. The Australian dollar climbed to 0.9379 U.S. dollar from 0.9363 dollar.
The U.S. dollar bought 101.31 Japanese yen, low than 101.72 yen of the previous session. The U.S. dollar went down to 0.8976 Swiss franc from 0.8987 Swiss franc, and it moved up to 1.0747 Canadian dollars from 1.0745 Canadian dollars.