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Australia, NZ dollars pop up on the yen as risk sentiment improves

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The Australian and New Zealand dollars jumped against the yen on Friday as risk appetite got a boost after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to stop nuclear and missile testing and to meet with his US counterpart.

[SYDNEY] The Australian and New Zealand dollars jumped against the yen on Friday as risk appetite got a boost after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to stop nuclear and missile testing and to meet with his US counterpart.

Mr Kim has committed to "denuclearisation" and to suspending nuclear or missile tests and extended an invitation to hold the first-ever US-North Korea summit, marking a potentially dramatic breakthrough in the North Korea nuclear standoff.

The Australian dollar climbed 0.6 per cent on the safe harbour yen. For the week, the Aussie is now up 1.3 per cent, snapping six consecutive weekly declines since Jan 19.

The New Zealand dollar also added 0.6 per cent against the yen and was set for a 1.4 per cent rise this week following losses since early-February.

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The antipodean countries are open economies exposed to global growth and commodity prices, and their currencies tend to rally when risk appetite improves.

"We think the move in the yen is reflecting a risk positive sentiment following the news that President Trump will be meeting Kim Jong Un. That is also being seen in the equities market which have opened firm this morning," said Rodrigo Catril, senior forex stratgist at National Australia Bank.

Mr Catril said investors were still a bit cautious as they awaited response from other countries on a US plan to impose duties on imported steel and aluminium.

The tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium will start in 15 days with initial exemptions for Canada and Mexico and the possibility of alternatives for other countries.

"We need to see if Trump expands this idea of imposing tariffs on other goods," Mr Catril said.

"For now the market is taking a bit of breather to the fact that some exemptions are being made. But we remain cautious."

Against the US dollar, the antipodeans were a tad weaker. The Aussie eased 0.1 per cent to US$0.7779 but was still up a touch for the week.

The kiwi slipped to US$0.7253 for its third straight session of losses. The currency is barely changed on the week.

Australian government bond futures were mixed, with the three-year bond contract down three ticks to 97.865 and the 10-year contract flat at 97.210.

REUTERS

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