1. Australia, NZ dollars find footing after turbulent week

Australia, NZ dollars find footing after turbulent week

The Australian dollar was ending the week on a steadier note after China looked to have stopped lowering its yuan for the moment, though its New Zealand counterpart took a knock from soft retail data at home.

By: | Published: August 14, 2015 10:07 AM

The Australian dollar was ending the week on a steadier note after China looked to have stopped lowering its yuan for the moment, though its New Zealand counterpart took a knock from soft retail data at home.

The Australian dollar was holding out at $0.7363, down around 0.7 percent for the week but well above a six-year trough of $0.7217 hit on Wednesday when yuan uncertainty was at its worst.

After devaluing its currency early in the week, China’s central bank on Friday held the yuan steady and seemed to calm concerns it was seeking a sustained depreciation.

At home, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Assistant Governor Christopher Kent said the central bank was keeping an open mind on the possibility of a further rate cut, but also pointed to a recent improvement in economic news.

He also highlighted the resilience of the labour market as a reason to expect no further increase in unemployment. The mixed message left investors pricing in little chance of a rate cut in the next few months.

“While rate cuts are still ‘on the table’, the risk of a near term cut look low,” said Gareth Aird, an economist at CBA.

“In addition, the AUD now looks quite content to be in the low 70s which we view as the ‘sweetspot’ for the RBA,” he added. “We see the RBA on hold at 2.0 percent from here.”

In contrast, the market remains fully priced for at least one more easing from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, likely to come next month.

A softer reading on retail sales out Friday only added to those expectations and kept the kiwi dollar under pressure at $0.6532, down 1.4 percent for the week.

The Aussie was up 0.6 percent on the kiwi at NZ$1.1260 , a one-week high targetting resistance at NZ$1.1300.

The currency, which touched a six-year low of $0.6468 this week, also felt the pinch from comments from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s about rising economic risks from the hot housing market.

“It’s a little bit of a rap on the knuckles for the financial sector in New Zealand… and is a reminder there are still risks in New Zealand,” said BNZ currency strategist Raiko Shareef.

New Zealand government bond yields were flat.

Australian government bond futures were a shade lower as the yuan scare faded. The three-year bond contract eased 3 ticks to 98.040, while the 10-year lost 3 ticks to 97.2000.

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