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Australian dollar gets China boost, NZ up as S&P affirms AA rating
[SYDNEY] The Australian dollar rose again on Friday to hit a near 2-1/2-month high after data showed China's economy expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in the fourth quarter of 2016.
China is Australia's No 1 trading partner while the Aussie is often seen as a liquid proxy for the yuan.
The Australian dollar was last up 0.2 per cent at US$0.7577 after briefly climbing to US$0.7589, a level not seen since Nov 11.
The Aussie is up about 1 per cent this week and was on track to clock its fourth straight weekly gain. It is up 5.3 per cent in January so far, making it one of the best performing major currencies in the world. "I have been fielding more questions about the Aussie's resilience over the past 24 hours than any other currency," said Stephen Innes, senior currency trader at OANDA Australia and Asia Pacific.
"Australia (is) an oasis in this politically contentious global environment. In addition to the political stability, yields remain attractive." Data from China showed the world's second-largest economy expanded 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared with expectations of 6.7 per cent, helped by higher government spending.
The Aussie extended its winning streak elsewhere. It touched a 1-1/2-year peak against the euro after the head of the European Central Bank pointed to subdued inflation and the need for further monetary policy stimulus.
It also rose on the yen to be near a one-month high.
Investors are now awaiting the inauguration of Donald Trump later on Friday for further cues. Mr Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
"Donald Trump will take centre stage as we begin a new chapter in American politics and global financial markets. Buckle up as we are likely in for a wild ride these next 100 days," Mr Innes said.
Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand dollar rose 0.25 per cent to US$0.7206, its second straight day of gains.
It received an extra boost in early afternoon trading after credit ratings agency S&P affirmed the country's AA rating.
The Kiwi touched a peak of US$0.7225, its highest since Dec 14. For the week, it was up 1 per cent, on track for its fourth straight weekly gain, but faces stiff chart resistance at US$0.7240.
New Zealand government bonds eased, sending yields 4.5 basis points higher at the long end of the curve.
Australian government bond futures were weak too, with the three-year bond contract down 1 tick at 97.94. The 10-year contract slipped 3 ticks to 97.18.