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[SYDNEY] The Australian dollar fell on Monday amid worries about slowing growth in China - a major trade partner - after a surprise slide in imports of coal, oil and commodities.
The Aussie fell as far as US$0.7752 from around US$0.7802 late in New York on Friday. It last traded at US$0.7769, still some way off a six-year trough of US$0.7627 set a week ago.
Data on Sunday showed a near 20 per cent tumble in China imports - the sharpest slide since May 2009 - when Chinese factories were still slashing inventories in reaction to the global financial crisis. "The stalling property market along with the slowing manufacturing sector all signal that import demand is likely to remain subdued," Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG.
"The PBoC will need to do more than just a 50 basis-point reduction in the reserve requirement ratio to stimulate these sectors."
The Aussie was already feeling the heat from a rallying U.S. dollar after solid job growth in the United States put a mid-year interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve back on the table.
US nonfarm payrolls increased 257,000 last month, outstripping Wall Street forecasts. Encouragingly, figures for November and December was revised to show a whopping 147,000 more jobs created than previously reported.
Also under pressure, the New Zealand dollar slipped 0.3 per cent to US$0.7325. However, it remained above a near four-year low of US$0.7177 plumbed earlier this month.
The kiwi was bolstered after Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Graeme Wheeler last week said a cut in interest rates was unlikely at the moment even as other countries have been easing monetary policy. "The kiwi's looking reasonably resilient ... we ran into good demand below US$0.7200," said Tim Kelleher, head of institutional FX sales at ASB Bank.
In the absence of major domestic economic data, the kiwi could consolidate around US$0.7300.
ASB's Kelleher said US$0.7450 would be a good level to sell the currency.
New Zealand government bonds fell, tracking losses in US Treasuries and pushing yields 7 basis points higher across the curve.
Australian government bond futures were also softer, with the three-year bond contract down 6 ticks at 98.040. The 10-year contract lost 10 ticks to 97.4800.
Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens is due to make some remarks this morning at the opening ceremony of Australia's first RMB Clearing Bank, although he is unlikely to touch on monetary policy.