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Australia, NZ dlrs off peaks as Fed hoses down bets on big U.S. rate cut

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY, July 22 (Reuters) – The Australian dollar eased from three-month highs on Monday as fading expectations for aggressive interest rate cuts in the United States sent the greenback broadly higher.

The New Zealand dollar nudged higher from Friday’s close although it held below a recent 3-1/2 month top.

Currency moves were generally small in cautious trading ahead of policy meetings at major central banks, including the European Central Bank on Thursday, and the Bank of Japan and the U.S. Federal Reserve next week.

The Australian dollar was last down 0.15% at $0.7032 after hitting $0.7082 on Friday, its highest since late April.

From a technical perspective, the Aussie still remains on an uptrend, although the 200-day moving average of $0.7090 remains a solid obstacle, said Rodrigo Catril, senior forex strategist at National Australia Bank.

The Aussie ended last week 0.3% higher after New York Fed President John Williams said “it pays to act quickly to lower rates at the first sign of economic distress,” seeming to cement the prospect of a rate cut at the Fed’s July 30-31 meeting.

However, a New York Fed representative later said the speech was academic in nature and “not about potential policy actions”, which hosed down the market a little.

Priced-in forecasts for a 50-basis-point cut have tumbled from as high as 71% last week to 18.5% on Monday.

Weekly data on speculative positioning revealed traders have unwound short positionings on the Aussie, but “there is still the potential for AUD upside from short covering,” Catril said.

The market will keep an eye on a Tuesday speech by RBA Assistant Governor Christopher Kent on “The Committed Liquidity Facility” and one on Thursday by Governor Philip Lowe entitled “Inflation Targeting and Economic Welfare”.

“Focus will remain on offshore events and on the USD performance ahead of the FOMC meeting at the end of July,” Catril noted.

The New Zealand dollar was slightly higher at $0.6771 but below its recent high of $0.6789, a level not seen since early April.

The next goal for bulls is $0.6837. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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