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Australian, NZ dollars seen weathering global trade squall: poll

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[SYDNEY] Foreign exchange analysts have trimmed their forecasts for the Australian and New Zealand dollars, but most still seem confident they can weather the worst of President Donald Trump's tariff-inspired trade disputes.

A Reuters survey of up to 55 analysts generally saw median predictions for the Aussie cut by around one to two US cents across the forecast horizon. It was now put at US$0.7400 in one month, down from US$0.7575 in the previous poll.

The shift merely acknowledged reality given the currency was trading at US$0.7386 on Friday, having fallen from US$0.7560 at the start of June as fears of a Sino-US trade war prompted selling of Chinese and emerging market assets.

The United States is due to enact tariffs on US$34 billion worth of Chinese goods later on Friday and China has threatened to immediately retaliate with tariffs of its own.

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China is Australia's single biggest export market and the world's largest buyer of commodities, making the Australian economy particularly vulnerable to any slowdown there.

"The AUD has appeared to be more sensitive than most to such trade headlines, so any AUD/USD rallies to the mid-US$0.74s should struggle," said Sean Callow, a senior forex analyst at Westpac.

"Then again the Aussie should already be pricing considerable risk over trade battles," he said. "We see US$0.7300 holding for now, with risks of a range break tilted lower."

Most of his peers seemed to think support would hold and the median forecast put the Aussie at US$0.7500 in three and six months, before rising to US$0.7700 in twelve months.

Analysts also cut their forecasts for the New Zealand dollar in the short term, but again predicted an eventual recovery.

The kiwi was put at US$0.6800 on a one-month horizon, compared to US$0.7000 in the previous poll. That again mirrored the market move with the kiwi currently at US$0.6798, having fallen from US$0.6990 at the start of June.

The currency hit a two-year trough of US$0.6688 earlier in the week, in part due a string of disappointing economic data that led investors to price in a small chance the next move in domestic interest rates could actually be downward.

"We don't think that the Bank will cut rates," said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB.

"But the near term risks slightly favour a rate cut given the escalation of trade tensions, the recent soft patch in GDP growth, the marked fall in business confidence and core inflation still sticky below the mid-point of the target range."

The next major support level is a low from May 2016 around US$0.6675.

Again the majority of analysts polled were tipping an eventual bounce, with the median forecast putting the kiwi at US$0.6900 in three months, US$0.6950 in six and US$0.7000 for a year ahead.

REUTERS