Australia, NZ dollars in demand as economies, commodities outperform

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY, March 3 (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars edged higher on Wednesday as upbeat economic news at home and strength in commodity prices globally underpinned sentiment, while bonds calmed after last week's ructions.

The Aussie nudged up to $0.7835 and further away from Friday's low of $0.7693, which was hit when a surge in global bond yields spooked investors out of riskier assets.

It faces layers of resistance from $0.7845 to $0.7915, and remains well short of last week's three-year top of $0.8007.

The kiwi rebounded to $0.7302, after briefly dipping as low as $0.7210 overnight. Resistance lies around $0.7305 and $0.7360.

Australian data showed the economy grew a rapid 3.1% in the December quarter, easily topping forecasts of 1.5% and the strongest back-to-back quarterly performance in the 60-year history of the series.

Gross domestic product was still down 1.1% on the year, reflecting the deep damage done during the pandemic lockdown, but all the signs are activity has remained robust with consumers spending freely.

The bond market greeted the data with equanimity given the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) had only just re-committed to keeping policy super easy.

The central bank is determined to push wages and inflation a lot higher before tightening, and there was scant evidence of domestically driven inflation in the GDP report.

Still, the outlook for brisk growth is seen justifying much of the recent increase in yields, even if the speed of the move was overdone.

"We think that pressure on the RBA is building," said Nomura economist Andrew Ticehurst. "Data continue to beat consensus, house price momentum appears to be accelerating, and rising job ads bode well for future employment growth."

He now doubted the RBA would extend its three-year yield target to the November 2024 bond. He also favoured buying the Aussie against the euro given the different growth dynamics in their economies.

Implied three-year yields in the futures market are trading around 0.30%, suggesting investors believe the RBA will have to lift its 0.1% target over time.

While yields on 10-year paper have steadied at 1.71%, off the recent peak of 1.97%, they are still up 73 basis points on the year.

The kiwi got a fillip of its own from the latest auction of dairy, the country's biggest goods export, which saw prices soar 15%. Prices for whole milk powder jumped 21% to the highest in seven years, promising a windfall for farmers. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

2021-03-03 04:24:08

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