A weaker-than-expected report on the state of the factory sector helped undermine the greenback against the major currencies Thursday.

Euros were trading at $1.4124, up from $1.409 late Wednesday. The dollar was buying 116.39 Japanese yen vs. 116.74 yen a day earlier. The British pound was selling for $2.0394, up from $2.0315 previously.

The Commerce Department reported a larger-than-expected drop in factory orders during August, indicating continued weakness in manufacturing. The news reversed strength in the greenback earlier in the session, when the euro had traded under $1.408.

"It appears as if the market still is concerned about the economy and is prepared to sell the dollar on bad news," says Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in New York City.

"The dollar strength was something of a surprising countermove," he adds.

The euro had spent the earlier part of the session losing ground after the Bank of England and European Central Bank chose not to raise interest rates. That news, plus some comments from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, kept the euro weak until the Commerce Department released its data at midmorning.

Woolfolk does note that some sense of normality has returned to the credit markets, with conditions "not terribly dissimilar to those before August" and the credit market meltdown, he explains.

In other currencies, the greenback was losing against the Australian dollar, with $1 buying AU$1.124 vs. AU$1.134 previously. The greenback fell against the Hong Kong dollar to HK$7.7584 from HK$7.76 a day earlier.

The PowerShares DB G10 Currency Harvest ( DBV) exchange-traded fund, which tracks the value of major currencies, was ahead by 0.3% in recent action.