Australia, New Zealand Dollars Reach 3-Week Highs

The Australian and New Zealand dollars reached their highest in three weeks as prices rose for commodities the nations export and the U.S. currency slid on concern the world's biggest economy is headed for a recession.

The Australian dollar rose 0.8 percent to 84.14 U.S. cents at 5 p.m. in Sydney, from 83.47 cents late in Asia yesterday. New Zealand's dollar reached 69.53 U.S. cents, the highest since Sept. 2, before trading at 68.85 U.S. cents from 68.74 cents yesterday

The U.S. dollar traded near a one-month low against the euro before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke give testimony to the Senate on a government plan to rescue the banking system. The U.S. currency also declined the Swiss franc and the British pound. The dollar traded at $1.4762 per euro as of 7:14 a.m. in New York, from $1.4774 yesterday, when it touched $1.4866, the lowest since Aug. 22. It was little changed at 105.52 yen, from 105.51 yen.

The euro
fell earlier after Reuters Plc reported the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's composite index fell to 47 in September, from 48.2 in August. The euro was at 155.74 yen as of 7:14 a.m. in New York, from 155.91 yesterday.

The Chinese yuan
rose for a second day after the dollar fell the most in a decade against the currencies of its major trading partners. China has managed the yuan's exchange rate against a basket of currencies, including the euro and the yen, since a peg against the dollar was scrapped in 2005. It has risen 21.5 percent against the dollar since then.

India's rupee
fell the most in a week as an advance in oil prices over the past week prompted importers to buy more dollars to fund fuel orders. The rupee slid 0.7 percent to 45.75 a dollar at the 5 p.m. close in Mumbai.

Russia's ruble rose for a fifth day against the dollar and strengthened versus the central bank's dollar-euro basket.  The currency rose to 24.9895 against the dollar, from 25.0281 yesterday. It also rose to 36.8887 per euro, from 36.9393.,
9/23/2008 5:40:40 AM