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Australia, NZ dollars near 1-month highs, RBNZ in focus

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The Australian and New Zealand dollars held near one-month peaks on Wednesday, buoyed by monetary policy expectations and higher commodity prices such as iron ore.

[SYDNEY] The Australian and New Zealand dollars held near one-month peaks on Wednesday, buoyed by monetary policy expectations and higher commodity prices such as iron ore.

The Australian dollar edged down to US$0.7448, within reach of a peak of US$0.7465 on Tuesday. It soared 1.2 per cent in the last session after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) wrong-footed Aussie bears with the omission of a clear easing bias in its monthly policy review statement.

The central bank on Tuesday kept rates at a record low of 1.75 per cent, taking a pause after last month's cut and recent data showing reasonable strength in the economy.

"The Aussie remains well supported by a combination of neutral RBA policy, general dollar weakness, and rally, fragile as it may be, in risk assets," said Stephen Innes, senior currency trader at FX and CFD firm OANDA Australia and Asia Pacific.

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Investors trimmed the risk of a cut in interest rates in August, with interbank futures implying less than a 50-50 chance of a move, from 64 per cent on Tuesday.

Capping the Antipodeans was a fall in China's exports and imports. The Asian giant is Australia and New Zealand's top export market.

The New Zealand dollar was steady at US$0.6974 after getting dragged higher by the Aussie dollar overnight.

Investors are awaiting the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's (RBNZ) policy decision on Thursday.

14 of 23 economists polled by Reuters expect the central bank to stand pat, while nine forecast a rate cut.

The central bank surprised markets in March when it cut by 25 basis points and said further reductions may be necessary given New Zealand's tepid inflation.

BNZ FX Strategist Jason Wong said if the RBNZ's tone is firmer than markets expect Thursday, it could drive the kiwi over US$0.7000.

He notes there is little technical resistance beyond the US$0.7055 level.

"To help bring the NZD down, the RBNZ would have to deliver a very dovish and credible message that a further series of rate cuts is possible," Mr Wong said.

New Zealand government bonds eased, sending yields around 0.5 bps higher across the curve.

Australian government bond futures held near highs, with the three-year bond contract up two ticks at 98.420. The 10-year contract also rose two ticks to 97.8300, close to an all-time peak touched on Tuesday, while the 20-year contract gained three ticks to 97.2400.

REUTERS

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