Despite a dip in a key manufacturing index for December, the dollar maintained its strength against the euro and the yen yesterday. According to a Bloomberg News report, the U.S. currency is up about 15% this year against the euro and the yen, and was able to maintain that gap even after yesterday's announcement from the Chicago-based National Association of Purchasing Management that its Business Barometer declined to 61.5 in December from 61.7 last month. Readings higher than 50 indicate expansion. Also worrying forecasters was a report from the National Association of Realtors that showed a November drop in existing home sales to a 6.97 million annual rate, down from 7.09 million in October. The report quoted a New York-based currency trader who said, "The economic data in the U.S. is still better than it is in Europe, Asia or anywhere else."