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Yen top 2008 performer against dollar

By Agencies

The euro edged higher against the US dollar in very light pre-holiday trading on New Year's Eve. The 15-nation common European currency bought $1.4091, up only slightly from the $1.4087 it bought in late New York trading on Tuesday.

The British pound continued its downward trend to $1.4457 compared to $1.4498 in New York. The pound has been battered by abysmal economic news in Britain.

The euro also recorded its best year against the pound since its 1999 debut on speculation the Bank of England will keep its main lending rate lower than that of the European Central Bank.

The dollar also completed its biggest annual decline against the Japanese yen in more than two decades on signs the US economy is sinking deeper into recession. The dollar traded at ¥90.34 in London. It has fallen 19 per cent this year, the most since 1987.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars had record slides versus the US currency and the yen as a global economic slump dragged down prices of commodities.

The US currency may weaken to ¥80 and strengthen to $1.30 per euro in the first half of 2009, said Lee Hardman, a London-based currency strategist at Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

The yen was the best performer of 2008 among the world's 16 most-active currencies against the dollar, while the pound was the worst, sliding 27 per cent.