aussie dollar news.

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    SYDNEY, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar held above
    58.20 U.S. cents on Monday, relinquishing very little of its
    weekend crusade to a 2 1/2-year high.
    The Aussie joined the kiwi, euro and other currencies in a
    rally against the U.S. dollar as investors repositioned for 2003,
    traders said.
    Bleak U.S. jobs data converged with investor unease after the
    United States deployed more troops to the Gulf and North Korea
    decided to abandon a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
    The Aussie traded as high as 58.41 U.S. cents offshore, a
    level not seen since August 2000.
    "People often place their bets at the start of the year and
    both the euro and the Aussie seem to be in favour," said Grant
    Fitzner, currency strategist at HSBC.
    At 4.00 p.m. (0500 GMT), the Aussie was trading at $0.5836/41
    three percent above last week's low of $0.5666.
    "The fact that we've been able to hang on up here goes to
    show the market is very reluctant to sell Aussie. The interest
    now still is to buy," said Stuart Moore, chief dealer of foreign
    exchange at St George Bank.
    The currency was expected to stage an assault on 60 U.S.
    cents in coming trade.
    "We see little resistance on the upside until $0.5950," said
    Sally Auld, strategist at Credit Suisse First Boston.

    Weighing on the big dollar is the United States' record trade
    deficit of $38 billion set in August.
    "The sheer size of the inflows required to fund the US dollar
    external deficit is likely to continue to see the negative U.S.
    factors dominate in the near term," said Peter Munckton, currency
    strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
    Data showed investors significantly increased Aussie long
    positions and bought Aussie call options, locking in the right to
    buy the currency.
    The Aussie is benefitting as investors chase its interest
    rate premium of 350 basis points to the United States.
    "I think they're starting the new year looking at how they're
    going to increase their returns. At the moment, stocks markets
    aren't anywhere flash to invest your money so they're looking at
    the high yielding currencies," said St George's Moore.
    "When you're in the States and you're looking at (near) one
    percent interest rates versus (more than) four percent over in
    Australia, it's four times the return," he said.
    Speculators in Australian dollar futures ballooned a net long
    position to 19,339 contracts in the week from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7,
    from 10,920 contracts in the previous week, data from the
    Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed.
    A rally in commodity prices to a five-year high <.CRB> this
    week has also brightened sentiment for the Aussie.
    It was firmer on the crosses, fetching 0.5518 euro and 69.47
    yen, compared with 0.5484 euro and 69.02 yen late on Friday.
    The U.S. nonfarm sector shed 101,000 jobs in December.
    "It's very much a jobless recovery, the most sub-par in the
    labour market following any recession of the post-war era," said
    CSFB's Auld.
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