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Australia dollar off lows, vulnerable to commodity prices

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The Australian dollar was sidelined in quiet trading on Monday after failing to hold above chart resistance and looked vulnerable to declining iron ore prices.

[SYDNEY] The Australian dollar was sidelined in quiet trading on Monday after failing to hold above chart resistance and looked vulnerable to declining iron ore prices.

Undermining the Aussie was Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showing speculators had further reduced their long Aussie positions for the week to May 23 to be a net long 2,635 contracts from 6,344 the week before.

The Aussie has shed 3 US cents since March, partly due to falling commodity prices and the euro's resurgence on upbeat economic indicators in the euro zone.

Recent kiwi strength has capped the Aussie. The Australian dollar touched a four-month lows against its kiwi neighbour earlier in the session to be last at NZ$1.0558. It dropped 2 per cent last week in the largest such decrease in more than a year.

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The losses are due in part to a diverging commodity outlook with prices of iron ore, Australia's top export earner, off 27 per cent since mid-April.

"It's all about the commodity plays these days and with the markets growing increasingly concerned about demand for iron ore, the Aussie could continue to struggle - more so if both the Fed and ECB point to a more hawkish shift in forward guidance," said Stephen Innes, a senior trader at Oanda.

In contrast, the outlook for New Zealand's dairy products, its largest export, is promising.

Global dairy prices have risen five times in a row in the past two months while cooperative giant Fonterra lifted its forecast milk payout for the 2016/17 last week.

The New Zealand dollar rose over the weekend, touching a two-month high of US$0.7077 before retracing slightly to trade around US$0.7050 on Monday.

Investors are waiting for Wednesday's central bank financial stability report which is expected to flag ongoing risks in the housing sector, but an improved outlook for dairy.

New Zealand government bonds eased, sending yields three basis points higher at the long end of the curve.

Australian government bond futures edged off six-month highs, with the three-year bond contract down one tick at 98.290. The 10-year contract shed half a tick to 97.5545, while the 20-year contract lost one tick to 96.9700.

The spread between Australian and US two-year government bonds inched up to 29 basis points, having plumbed 28 basis points on Friday, the smallest since 2001.

Likewise, the 10-year bond spread stood at 19 basis points, from 16 basis points last week, which was the slimmest since November.

REUTERS

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