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Australian dollar set for 4th straight week of losses

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The Australian dollar skidded to an 11-week trough on Friday after another slide in commodities dented risk sentiment, while the New Zealand currency also came under pressure, putting both units on track for weekly losses.

[SYDNEY] The Australian dollar skidded to an 11-week trough on Friday after another slide in commodities dented risk sentiment, while the New Zealand currency also came under pressure, putting both units on track for weekly losses.

The Australian dollar dropped to as low as US$0.7286, its weakest reading since early March, after stops were tripped on the break of key support at 73 cents. It was last at US$0.7298 with the next big support level seen around the 200-day moving average of US$0.7260.

The Aussie has tumbled more than five US cents since its April 21 peak, setting the stage for a fourth consecutive week of losses. The Aussie has slipped 1 per cent since Monday.

It dropped a leg lower after another fall in prices of iron ore, Australia's top export earner. The mineral touched its lowest in two-months on Thursday to be down nearly 6 per cent this week.

Selling picked up steam with further unwinding of Aussie long positions.

Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed speculators were still net long the week ended May 3.

Markets are pricing in another quarter of a per centage point easing by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to a record low of 1.5 per cent late this year. The central bank cut rates last week for the first time in a year.

For Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, any short term rebound in the Aussie is likely to be limited due to the narrowing interest rate differential between the RBA and the US Federal Reserve.

Indeed, the premium between Australian and US two-year cash bonds dropped to a fresh decade-low of 83 basis points. A break of key support around 79 basis points could see a retracement all the way to 44 basis points, the 2006 trough.

The New Zealand dollar dipped to US$0.6800, from US$0.6823 earlier, but remained well supported as the market continues to pare expectations of a June rate cut after the central bank's financial stability report this week.

"The uncertainly of monetary policy, primarily due to the RBNZ housing focus and lack of new measures to tackle the effects of house price increases, leaves the question if the RBNZ dare cut further," said OM Financial Ltd private client manager Stuart Ive.

New Zealand government bonds eased, sending yields six basis points higher at the short end and five at the long end.

Australian government bond futures were quiet, with the three-year bond contract steady at 98.450. The 10-year contract added 2 ticks to 97.7250, while the 20-year contract edged 2 ticks lower to 97.0600.

REUTERS