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Aussie slips from 2-week high after RBA minutes douse rally
[TOKYO] The Australian dollar slipped on Tuesday after the minutes from Australia's central bank provided few incentives to build on the commodity-linked currency's gains, while the yen looked to the Bank of Japan's policy meeting for catalysts.
Earlier the Antipodean currency rallied to a two-week high against the dollar and the yen after the country's ruling party ousted unpopular prime minister Tony Abbott in a leadership challenge.
The Aussie slipped to US$0.7130, 0.1 per cent below its late US levels following the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's September policy meeting, with a fall in Chinese shares adding to the drag. "Sellers are still waiting to sell the Aussie on a rally as commodity markets remain low," said a trader at a Japanese bank.
Earlier it hit a two-week high of US$0.7166, drawing support after Australia's ruling Liberal Party voted out unpopular Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Malcolm Turnbull, a multi-millionaire former tech entrepreneur, is expected to be sworn in as prime minister on Tuesday.
Hopes that Treasurer, Joe Hockey, may be replaced, are also underpinning the Aussie. "The market had lost faith in Joe Hockey following poorly received budgets and a perceived inability to 'read' the economy, in our view," analysts at Citi wrote in a note to clients. "We think both business and consumer sentiment readings have been adversely affected for a number of months by the lack of economic and fiscal policy direction under Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey." With the RBA minutes out of the way, the focus is shifting to the Bank of Japan.
The central bank is widely expected to maintain the current pace of monetary easing on Tuesday, but weak economic data over recent weeks have heightened speculation that the central bank may act to bolster growth. "Although further easing is not really expected, there may be a small number of people who have hopes of surprise easing today. So I suspect the yen could gain briefly if there is no policy change," said Osao Iizuka, chief dealer at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank. "But at the same time, the yen's rise should be limited because many investors think the BOJ will ease its policy at some point in the future," he added.
The BOJ's policy decision is expected between noon (0300 GMT) and 2:00 pm (0500 GMT).
The dollar traded at 120.45 yen (S$1.40), up 0.2 per cent on the day after having slipped 0.3 per cent on Monday against a backdrop of anxiety in the world's equity markets ahead of the conclusion of a crucial policy meeting by the US Federal Reserve on Thursday.
The dollar index stood at 95.303, having slipped to 94.913 on Monday, its lowest level since late August, as traders nervously wait to see whether the Fed will raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade.
Volatility in financial markets since last month has led many investors to believe the Fed will refrain from raising rates this week to avoid causing further instability in markets, capping the dollar.
Still, financial markets are pricing in about 30 per cent chance of a rate hike.
The euro traded at US$1.1310, having risen to as high as US$1.1373 on Monday, its highest level since Aug 26.
A raft of economic data is due later in the day, including retail sales and industrial production in the United States, economic sentiment data in Germany and inflation data in UK.