Japan's yen also benefited as investors fled high-risk assets and used the proceeds to pay back low-cost loans taken out in the currency. The yen climbed to a 13-year high against the dollar this week and surged to its strongest level against the euro in six years. The pound fell below $1.53 in its biggest weekly drop since investor George Soros drove sterling out of Europe's system of linked exchange rates in 1992.
The dollar appreciated 6 percent to $1.2623 per euro this week, from $1.3410 on Oct. 17. The currency touched $1.2497 per euro yesterday, the strongest since October 2006. The yen rallied 7.8 percent to 94.32 per dollar from 101.69, and touched 90.93 yesterday, its highest level since August 1995. Against the euro, the yen climbed 12.7 percent to 118.96 from 136.21. It touched 113.81 yesterday, the strongest since May 2002.
This week's decline in the euro was its biggest against the dollar and the yen since the 15-nation currency's inception in January 1999. The yen's gain versus the dollar was the biggest since October 1998.
Emerging-market currencies tumbled as Argentina seized private pension funds, and Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary and Iceland joined Pakistan in requesting at least $20 billion of emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund. Brazil's real dropped 8.2 percent to 2.3075 against the dollar, the South African rand decreased 10.4 percent to 11.18 and the Russian ruble fell 3.2 percent to 27.1991.
The pound depreciated 8 percent after the Office for National Statistics said U.K. gross domestic product contracted in the third quarter for the first time since 1992. Sterling's drop was its biggest since Black Wednesday in September 1992, when the U.K. was driven from Europe's exchange-rate mechanism. It reached $1.5269 yesterday, the lowest level since August 2002. Against the euro, the pound touched a record low of 81.96 pence.
The yen gained 19 percent this week to 58.72 against the Australian dollar and 19 percent to 52.47 versus the New Zealand currency on speculation a rout in global stocks will encourage investors to unwind trades in which they get funds in a country with low borrowing costs and buy assets where returns are higher. Japan's 0.5 percent target lending rate compares with 6 percent in Australia and 6.5 percent in New Zealand.