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Australia, NZ dollars firm on commodities, yield appeal

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 10:46

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The Australian and New Zealand dollars were firm as their US counterpart lost its mojo ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting starting later on Tuesday.

[SYDNEY] The Australian and New Zealand dollars were firm as their US counterpart lost its mojo ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting starting later on Tuesday.

The Australian dollar nudged up to US$0.7495, from Monday's low of US$0.7431, edging closer to a one-month peak of US$0.7510.

The 75 cents area has proved a strong chart barrier, and a sustainable break above would open the door to US$0.7546, the 50 per cent retracement of the November retreat from US$0.7778 to US$0.7311.

The Aussie drew support from rising commodity prices, particularly iron ore, Australia's largest export earner.

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Also underpinning it were low short-term yields in the euro that reinforced the appeal of carry trades, where investors borrow euros and yen at cheap rates to invest in higher yielding currencies such as the Aussie and kiwi.

Yields on the 10-year New Zealand government bond reached 3.3 per cent, the highest since January. The Australian equivalent fetched 2.8 per cent, not far from a one-year peak of 2.9 per cent touched on Monday.

The euro stood at A$1.4186, having gone as far as A$1.4104 on Monday and nearing its lowest in 18 months.

Against the kiwi, the euro held at NZ$1.4788 and a break under NZ$1.4711 would be the lowest since May 2015. The euro is down around 7 per cent this year.

The Antipodean currencies were also near multi-month peaks against the yen, last trading at 86.19 yen and 82.70 yen.

A survey showed Australian business conditions softened in November for a second month, while house prices moderated in the third quarter. The second-largest city of Melbourne showed the biggest increase, at 6.9 per cent for the year.

The New Zealand dollar stood at US$0.7190, having risen 0.7 per cent in the previous session. Resistance was found around 72 cents with support at US$0.7140.

It is up 5.3 per cent so far this year, largely due to its yield appeal and a robust domestic economy.

The kiwi easily weathered a national leadership change following last week's surprise resignation of Prime Minister John Key. On Monday, Bill English was confirmed as the new leader.

New Zealand government bonds edged up, sending yields between 2 and 3 basis points lower across the curve.

Australian government bond futures rose, with the three-year bond contract up 2.5 ticks at 98.055. The 10-year contract, which earlier on Tuesday touched an 11-month trough, gained 3 ticks to 97.1975.

The spread between 10- and 3-year bonds widened to 86 basis points, the largest in more than one year. The next big level is the July 2015 peak of 100 basis points.

REUTERS

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