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Australia, NZ dollars gain as global growth pulse quickens
[SYDNEY] The Australian and New Zealand dollars hopped to their highest in more than two weeks on Thursday, as a round of profit-taking curbed the US dollar, while a run of upbeat data on the global economy underpinned commodity prices.
A survey on China's services sector showed activity sped to a 17-month high in December, echoing strength in a range of surveys from Europe and the United States.
The Aussie dollar was flat at US$0.7285, having rallied 0.9 per cent overnight as its US counterpart retreated broadly. Chart resistance lay just ahead at US$0.7299, with support around US$0.7240/50.
Dealers said the US dollar had enjoyed a strong run in the last couple of months and the market was heavily long on the currency, leaving it vulnerable to a sudden pullback on very little news.
Indeed, minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting out on Wednesday should actually have been bullish for the currency given they showed many policymakers saw a risk they might have to raise interest rates faster to head off inflation.
The Aussie also drew direct support from recent strength in prices for its main commodities, notably iron ore and coal.
The Reserve Bank of Australia's index of commodity prices out this week showed it surged 9.3 per cent in December, from the previous month, to be up almost 40 per cent on a year earlier.
The index for bulk commodities alone was up 85 per cent on Dec 2015, a windfall for export revenues, mining profits and tax receipts.
The New Zealand dollar was holding at US$0.6977 having climbed 0.8 per cent overnight, but faces tough chart resistance in the US$0.7000/7006 zone.
A dearth of domestic data has seen it track to the whims of the US currency in recent days. The next major release is not until Jan 26 when the consumer price index for the December quarter is released.
The country's central bank holds its next policy meeting on Feb 9 and is considered certain to keep rates at 1.75 per cent, with the market wagering it will remain there for much of the coming year.
New Zealand government bonds rose in price for a second session, with yields falling as much as eight basis points at the longer end.
Australian government bond futures also firmed, with the three-year bond contract up three ticks at 97.970. The 10-year contract added 4.5 ticks to 97.2150.