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U.S. dollar sinking The U.S. dollar continues to sink today amid speculation of further measures from the Federal Reserve and as the buzz in markets continues to focus on a global currency war.

"The combination of a weaker-than-expected U.S. growth trajectory, anticipation of the Federal Reserve entering a second round of unconventional stimulus measures, the lack of a credible fiscal plan and the upcoming midterm elections have all helped to weaken the [U.S. dollar]" Scotia Capital currency analyst Camilla Sutton said in a research note. "... Renewed monetary easing from the major central banks equates to a new flood of liquidity into the system. Fears over currency debasement, sparked by both direct currency intervention in Japan and the potential for ongoing intervention in both the U.S. and Japan, has helped to push gold prices to new highs and the [U.S. dollar]to year-to-date lows."

Several officials weighed in on the debate today. The chief of the International Monetary Fund, for example, ruled out a one-time currency accord, Globe and Mail Washington correspondent Kevin Carmichael reports.

"Despite a number of news items that six months ago would have sent the single currency through the floor, the euro continues to push higher, shrugging off a Fitch downgrade of Ireland that followed in the footsteps of Moody's earlier this week, as investors put European concerns to one side to fixate on the only game in town," added CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson. "Sell the dollar against everything on the basis of continued deteriorating economic data which will in all likelihood lead to further Fed easing at next month's [Federal Open Market Committee]meeting."

Holding down the value of a currency is deemed a trade irritant, a way to help boost a country's exports. China has been under intense pressure to allow its yuan to rise, while Japan intervened in markets to keep a lid on the yen.

Russia, on the other hand, is talking up its ruble, which has been gaining against the U.S. dollar. Yesterday, Alexei Ulyukayev, the first deputy central bank chairman, reportedly told a conference in Moscow that "the ruble is more likely to strengthen than weaken" in the short term.

"Here's a central banker appearing to try and talk up his currency," Tim Ash, an analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, told The Wall Street Journal. "The central bank has been relatively slow to respond to recent market rumours suggestive of an imminent devaluation of the ruble."

And today, Russia established a council whose aim is to strenghten the ruble's role as a reserve currency, Bloomberg News reported.

"Russian sovereign credit prospects are brightening; Fitch Ratings revised the outlook for Russia's 'BBB' long-term foreign currency rating to 'positive' on Sept. 8, as the country's financial vulnerabilities are diminishing on the back of a recent decline in inflation, a shift to a more flexible exchange rate policy, stronger private sector balance sheets, banking sector stabilization and rising foreign reserves," Tuuli McCully, senior international economist at Bank of Nova Scotia, wrote in a report.

In a research report late last month, Paul Biszko, senior emerging markets strategist at RBC Dominion Securities in Toronto, projected that a sustained "appreciation trend" for the ruble, one of the worst-performing commodity-linked currencies this year, will resume over the next three to six months as commodity prices hold.

"The Central Bank of Russia's (CBR) recent actions and signals regarding the currency and monetary policy suggest that officials remain committed to a freer floating ruble and an inflation targeting monetary policy regime, with a two-to-three timeframe likely," Mr. Biszko wrote in a report titled "Is the Russian Bear poised to re-awaken?"

"... Also underpinning our optimism on the [ruble]is the fact that neither the currency's valuation nor investor positioning in Russian financial assets appear stretched at this time."

Trichet wades into currency debate European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet is weighing into the controversy over exchange rates, warning that a currency should reflect its country's economy and that "excess volatility and disorderly moves" hurt economies and financial stability.

Mr. Trichet's comments came as the euro climbed against its U.S. counterpart, hitting $1.40 for the first time since early in the year.

Fears over a currency war have been mounting, largely because China is keeping a lid on its yuan and Japan has intervened in markets in an attempt to hold down the yen.

Mr. Trichet spoke after both his ECB and the Bank of England held interest rates steady today.

Building permits slip Building permits in Canada fell 9.2 per cent in August from a month earlier, pulled down by a hefty drop of almost 23 per cent in the non-residential sector. Permits issued for residential construction rose, however, Statistics Canada said today.

The drop in the non-residential sector was primarily due to declines in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. The reverse was seen in residential permits, which rose 2 per cent on multi-family homes in the same three provinces.

While overall permits were down, they still stood 11.4 per cent above the level a year earlier, the federal statistics gathering agency said.

Regulators meet on bank pay Bankers in Europe could face even stricter restrictions on their pay, The Financial Times reports today. The Committee of European Banking Supervisors, meeting in London yesterday and today, are drafting regulations that would bring into force regulations proposed in the summer.

But, the news organization said, the regulators are now looking at forcing banks to meet a ratio that would hold bonuses at a multiple of salary. This would come despite fears raised by officials in Britain, France and Spain, The Financial Times said.

Retailers post solid gains U.S. retailers appear to have had a successful back-to-school season, which is lifting hopes heading into the crucial holiday sales period.

Several chains today reported September sales that were better than expected, including Macy's Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch AFN-N, though Gap Inc. and Target Corp. lagged.

Life imitates art Resorts Atlantic City aims to take advantage of the popularity of a new TV series and adopt a 1920s theme that will include its cocktail servers, bellhops and others, The Associated Press said.

Resorts Atlantic City, the first casino in the U.S. to open outside of Nevada is taking a cue from Boardwalk Empire, the HBO series starring Steve Buscemi about Atlantic City in the Roaring 20s.

"A lot of people here are learning 1920s songs now," Dennis Gomes, who's buying the property, told the news agency.

From today's Report on Business

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