Australian dollar strengthens on encouraging Chinese data

The Australian dollar strengthened on stronger-than-expected economic data from China. — AFP pic
The Australian dollar strengthened on stronger-than-expected economic data from China. — AFP pic

SYDNEY, July 15 — The Australian dollar strengthened on stronger-than-expected economic data from China, which some analysts saw as signalling that moves aimed at reviving spending in the world’s second biggest economy are having some success.

The Aussie gained against the US dollar, which advanced against the safe-haven yen and the Swiss franc.

China’s industrial output bounced in June from a 17-year low in the previous month. June retail sales surged 9.8% from a year earlier, compared with the 8.3% — a slowing from May’s tepid figures — that polled analysts expected.

The Australian dollar rose almost 0.2% to $0.7024 after China’s data release. The yuan strengthened against the dollar to touch its highest since last week.

“China’s economy is finding a base and it was not as weak as feared, so risky currencies go up,” said Imre Speizer head of NZ strategy at Westpac Banking Corporation in Auckland.

“The market is wanting to price a lot of risk into the Aussie,” he said.

China’s quarterly gross domestic product posted its slowest pace of growth in 27 years, as expected, growing by 6.2% in the June quarter compared to a year earlier.

Ray Attrill, head of forex strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney, said today’s figures, on the back of credit data on Friday, showed China’s stimulus program is gaining traction.

“There are signs it is starting to work,” he said.

“Whether you’re building a railway between two cities in China or whether you’re building stuff to sell to the US it seems to need a lot of steel... it is still a good news story for Australia — that’s certainly the way that the market has chosen to interpret the numbers.”

The data also lifted the China-exposed New Zealand dollar by 0.18% to US$0.6721.

The US dollar, meanwhile, remains under pressure on expectations of a Federal Reserve rate cut. Comments last week from Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Chicago Fed president Charles Evans indicated US rate cuts are needed to boost inflation.

In the US, a 25 basis-point rate cut in July is priced in, along with an almost 20% chance of a 50 basis point cut.

Investors will be looking to US retail sales figures due tomorrow and company earnings for signs of how shoppers and businesses are weathering the slowdown.

Against a basket of currencies the dollar held near a 10-day low at 96.865.

It gained against the yen to break 108.00, though still remains underneath resistance at 108.98. Monday is a national holiday in Japan and dollar-yen trading volumes were thin.

The greenback rose 0.1% to US$0.9853 against the Swiss franc. The euro slipped back to US$1.265 though remains stuck in a two-cent range that has held the single currency since June. — Reuters