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Australia dollar weathers trade blow, NZ$ holds firm

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The Australian and New Zealand dollars held near multi-week highs on Friday as optimism on global growth supported risk appetites and commodity prices.

[SYDNEY] The Australian and New Zealand dollars held near multi-week highs on Friday as optimism on global growth supported risk appetites and commodity prices.

The Aussie dollar was parked at US$0.7848, having touched an 11-week peak of US$0.7870. Traders still reported stiff resistance at US$0.7884 and US$0.7898, which were both tops back in October.

The Aussie took a small knock when data showed the country's recorded a trade deficit of A$628 million (S$653.75 million) in November, confounding expectations of a surplus.

However, analysts cautioned the figures did not fully reflect a sharp increase in spot iron ore prices seen during November. The statistics bureau assumes a price until it gets the true figures from miners which can take a number of months.

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That suggests exports will be revised higher in time, particularly as iron ore is Australia's single biggest earner bringing in around A$7 billion a month.

Prices have climbed from a low of US$58.62 at the start of November to US$74.61 this week, a rise of 27 per cent. That swing alone would be worth around A$1.9 billion a month in extra export revenue.

Prices for other major commodity exports, including copper, coal and liquefied natural gas, have also been trending higher in the last couple of months.

"Positives remain in the LNG sector as exports lift with additional capacity coming on stream and prices firm, while the Asian region continues to be a solid source of demand for services exports," said Simon Murray, an economist at Westpac.

Earnings from services, such as tourism and travel, stood at A$7.4 billion in November, up 11 per cent on a year earlier.

The New Zealand dollar had no data to worry about and hung onto all its gains on a broadly softer US currency. It was last at US$0.7150, just off an 11-week top of US$0.7163.

The kiwi next faces chart resistance at US$0.7217, a peak from mid-October.

New Zealand government bonds firmed in price, pushing yields down five basis points at the long end of the curve.

Australian government bond futures also gained, with the three-year bond contract up two ticks at 97.875. The 10-year contract rose three ticks to 97.3450.

REUTERS