Aussie up in Asia
The Australian dollar gained as much as half a percent on Tuesday after growth figures from China slightly exceeded market expectations, while the US dollar struggled to gain traction and retreated against the yen. The third quarter numbers from the world's second largest economy did little to settle the broader concerns over global growth that have dominated markets for the past week.
Copyright Reuters, 2014
Reflecting those, European stocks were set to fall at opening and another dip in US government bond yields helped support the yen against the dollar. "The market looks to be just chopping around a bit at the moment," said Graham Davidson, a spot currency trader with National Australia Bank in London. "Until we get some more data that make clear whether these concerns about growth are just a blip or a sign of a more concerted slowdown, that's going to be the pattern."
He said the Aussie and South African rand had both benefited from the Chinese numbers, which showed the economy slowing to 7.3 percent annual growth, compared to expectations of 7.2 percent. Industrial output also topped forecast, growing 8.0 percent compared to a forecast 7.5 percent. The Aussie, often seen as a liquid proxy of Chinese growth prospects given Australia's large trade exposure to China, rose 0.2 percent on the day to $0.8804.
Broader risk sentiment still looked wobbly in the wake of this month's market volatility, with Asian shares generally flat on the day and Japan's benchmark Nikkei share average handing back half of Monday's 4 percent rise. Volumes on major currency markets were a fraction of the past month's average. "The absolute China number isn't all that great and the trend has been toward a slower growth rate, so it's probably hard to openly move in the direction of putting risk on," said Koji Fukaya, CEO of FPG Securities in Tokyo.
Weak Japanese equities lent support to the yen, a low-yielding currency that can get a lift from position squaring when investor risk appetites decline. The dollar slid 0.4 percent versus the yen to 106.53 yen. The greenback also edged lower versus a basket of major currencies, with the dollar index easing 0.2 percent to 84.837. The dollar has lost ground in recent weeks as concerns about slowing global growth prompted investors to trim bets that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates soon after an expected end in its stimulus later this month. The euro rose 0.2 percent against the dollar to $1.2824. Against the yen, the single currency slipped 0.2 percent to 136.62 yen.