Aussie up on GDP, NZD falters on Trump speech

[SYDNEY] The Australian dollar rose on Wednesday after data showed the country's economy rebounded sharply in the fourth quarter, extending its 25 years of uninterrupted expansion.

Sentiment was, however, jittery as investors digested a key policy speech by US President Donald Trump, although it was short on details about his long-awaited stimulus plans.

The Australian dollar rose 0.24 per cent to US$0.7673, coming back up from a two-week low of US$0.7646 on Tuesday.

The Aussie is among the best performing major currencies so far this year, up 6.5 per cent already, but it has stayed muted most of February on a strengthening greenback.

The Aussie got a lift from solid data showing the country's economy grew 1.1 per cent in the fourth quarter from the third, far outpacing expectations of a 0.7 per cent rise.

"The good news is that the economy has bounced decisively out of the Q3 GDP pothole," said Kristina Clifton, economist at Commonwealth Bank.

"There does not appear to be any need for extra interest-rate assistance," she added, noting house prices were accelerating again.

Interbank futures dipped in response to imply almost no possibility of another easing, with some chance of a hike priced in for the end of the year.

Also helping the Aussie was data showing China's factory activity expanded faster than expected in February. China is Australia's No 1 trading partner.

Some analysts, however, saw limited upside in the Aussie.

"We recommend taking profit on our AUD long trade - initiated in early January," said Daniel Been, head of FX strategy at ANZ Banking Group.

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand dollar was down 0.3 per cent at US$0.7166 led by strength in the greenback.

New Zealand government bonds eased, sending yields 6.5 basis points higher at the long end of the curve.

Australian government bond futures fell, with the three-year bond contract down six ticks at 97.97. The 10-year contract slipped seven ticks to 97.1800.


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