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DOLLAR RETURNS TO EARTH AFTER SOARING OVERNIGHT

The U.S. dollar was higher late Friday after having traversed a fairly wide range between its day's highs and lows in fairly active trading.

But when the dust settled, the greenback was hovering only a little above its day-earlier levels."There was a fairly wide trading range, with not much difference from yesterday but a fair amount of intraday movement," said Bill Arnold, vice president, forex for Chemical Bank. He noted the dollar moved between 1.6670 and 1.6850 German marks.

"The dollar rallied overnight and tested its recent high at 1.6850," before coming off that peak, Arnold said.

He said there were no news or economic developments of real importance to account for the brisk volume.

Looking ahead, Arnold noted that mid-March auto sales data is due Tuesday.

"Auto sales have become a focus of emphasis this time because they are seen by economists as a good leading indicator of potential recovery," said Arnold. He added that market focus would remain for the monment on indicators such as auto, home and retail sales, all of which would indicate a pickup in the all-important consumer spending sector.

"Before long, though, there will have to be some confirmation from unemployment data," he cautioned, which have so far not reflected any kind of turnaround. March's jobless rates and non-farm payroll numbers are due in two weeks.

In late New York trading, the dollar rose to 1.6735 German marks Friday from 1.6710 Thursday, and to 133.95 Japanese yen from 133.55.

The British pound sterling rose slightly to $1.7113 from $1.7095.

Against other European currencies, the dollar rose in New York to 1. 5195 Swiss francs from 1.5150, to 5.6775 French francs from 5.6695 and to 1,257.50 Italian lire from 1,257.50

The dollar rose to 1.1978 Canadian dollars, up from 1.1965 Thursday.

In European trading, the dollar ended higher in Frankfurt at 1.6840 German marks, up from Thursday's close at 1.6700.