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Australian, New Zealand dollars run aground as data flow dries up

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The Australian and New Zealand dollars marked time on Monday with little in the way of domestic data to react to and the jury still out on where interest rates are going in coming months.

[SYDNEY] The Australian and New Zealand dollars marked time on Monday with little in the way of domestic data to react to and the jury still out on where interest rates are going in coming months.

There are no major economic figures due in either country this week, though Australia does have minutes of the last central bank policy meeting.

The Aussie held at US$0.6818, having bounced from a recent one-month low of US$0.6770. Yet it remains far short of the October top at US$0.6930 as a run of soft economic data keeps alive the risk of further rate cuts.

The kiwi dollar, in contrast, was firm at $0.6400 having rallied sharply last week when the country's central bank surprised by not easing policy.

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It now faces resistance at US$0.6422 and the November peak of US$0.6466, while major support lies at US$0.6323.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand's (RBNZ) decision to hold rates at 1 per cent means there is no risk of an easing until the next policy meeting on Feb 12, an extended gap that squeezed some speculators out of short kiwi positions.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) still has a window to ease at its meeting on Dec 3, which encouraged speculators to add to their short positions last week.

The RBA has sounded in no rush to cut further, but speculation was stoked last week when figures on employment and wages both disappointed.

Futures imply around a 20 per cent chance of a quarter point cut in the 0.75 per cent cash rate in December, rising to 62 per cent for February and 92 per cent by June.

The RBA will release minutes of its November meeting on Tuesday which could include a discussion on the limits to cutting deeper and what sort of unconventional policies might be considered instead.

"We look for another RBA rate cut in Q1, 2020," said Peter Dragicevich, a financial markets strategist at Suncorp. "We would highlight that even on the assumption of a move to 0.5 per cent, the RBA is not forecasting inflation to return to the target range or for full-employment to be reached."

"Hence in the absence of fiscal support being announced, the odds of the RBA having to do even more, and deploying other measures in 2020, are rising."

That outlook has helped bonds rally in recent days. The three-year bond contract rose 1.5 ticks on Monday to 99.250, well up on the low of 99.070 hit early in November.

The 10-year contract inched up to 98.8400, and away from its November trough of 98.6500.

REUTERS