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Australian dollar fails again at 77 US cents, NZD steps back from 12-wk peak

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 10:45

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The Australian dollar inched lower on Wednesday for its third straight day of losses after repeatedly failing to breach a key chart resistance level and on broad greenback strength.

[SYDNEY] The Australian dollar inched lower on Wednesday for its third straight day of losses after repeatedly failing to breach a key chart resistance level and on broad greenback strength.

The Aussie was down 0.1 per cent at US$0.7621, drifting away from a three-month peak of US$0.7696.

It failed at critical resistance of 77 US cents for four sessions in a row, as the US currency getting a lift from rising political uncertainty in Europe amid a slew of elections this year.

The Aussie - seen as a liquid proxy for China plays - was also knocked by data showing China's forex reserves unexpectedly fell below the closely watched $3 trillion level in January, raising concerns about its ability to defend its currency.

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European political woes kept the US dollar well supported.

France's presidential race sank deeper into the mire of scandal after centrist Emmanuel Macron was forced to deny an extramarital affair and conservative Francois Fillon pressed on with efforts to salvage his reputation.

Opinion polls show Mr Macron slightly ahead of Mr Fillon in the first round, but behind far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. She has vowed to pull France out of the euro zone and hold a vote on its membership in the European Union.

The euro fell for a six straight day on the Aussie to be near its lowest since mid-2015. The pound was weaker too, down 0.1 per cent.

"Some markets and assets are starting to trade with a risk off tone. In the near term we expect that volatility could spike," ANZ said in a note, raising the stop-loss trigger level on its long Aussie position to US$0.7595.

The New Zealand dollar struggled to maintain its 12-week high of US$0.7375 hit earlier this week, pulling back to US$0.7304.

Investors are keenly awaiting the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's monetary policy statement due Thursday.

Though the RBNZ was widely expected to keep rates at record lows of 1.75 per cent, markets are watching for any guidance on the future course of policy.

"We think the bank's not yet ready to embrace the idea of talking about hikes...that might just see the kiwi pull back a bit, probably temporarily," said Phil Borkin, an economist at ANZ.

New Zealand government bonds gained, sending yields 1 basis point lower.

Australian government bond futures were unchanged, with the three-year bond contract at 98.050 and the 10-year contract at 97.2750.

REUTERS

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