LONDON: Asia's trade-exposed currencies held firm on Monday as data showed China's economic rebound from the pandemic accelerated in the third quarter, with the yuan surging to a fresh 1-1/2-year high against the dollar.
China's gross domestic product grew 4.9% in July-September from a year earlier, slower than analysts' forecast, but faster than the second quarter and helped by strong gains in industrial output and an acceleration in retail sales.
The yuan and the Australian and New Zealand dollars slipped from session highs after the Chinese GDP headline miss, but then rebounded on the view that consumption data from China was a harbinger of better growth in the current quarter.
The Chinese currency touched 6.6737 against the US dollar in the offshore market, its strongest since March 2019. It was last up 0.4%. The yuan benefited in the last few months from hopes of a Joe Biden win in the US presidential election, as he is seen as less of a threat to US-China relations.
The Nordic currencies strengthened on the back of a risk-off mood, with the Norwegian crown leading the way. The crown was up 0.8% versus the US dollar at 9.3025 and by 0.5% versus the euro at 10.9345. Relatively stronger oil prices could also have helped the Nokkie.
Marshal Gittler, head of research at BDSwiss Group, said "the general 'risk-on' environment (is) pushing money into the commodity currencies."
Nokkie short positions have increased recently, according to BNP Paribas research. A reversal of those shorts could have pushed the Nokkie higher. The Australian dollar was 0.5% higher at $0.7114 and the New Zealand dollar rose 0.6% to $0.6642.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won re-election on Saturday, delivering the biggest election victory for her centre-left Labour Party in half a century. Gittler said the fact that the Labour Party won a majority in the parliament in New Zealand is positive for the Kiwi dollar because of a "reduction in uncertainty and greater ease of governing."
Lee Hardman, currency analyst at MUFG, said "the renminbi, other Asian and commodity-related currencies should continue to benefit," noting that the spread of Covid-19 in Asia remains more contained than in the rest of the world and that points to "a continuation of cyclical outperformance" there.
The US dollar was slightly weaker, though still clinging to the top of its most recent trading range. It continued to be supported by investor worries about rising coronavirus cases, the looming US election and fading prospects of any fiscal stimulus before the election.
An index tracking the greenback against a basket of currencies was last down 0.3% at 93.40, close to the top of the last three months' trading range. Euro/dollar rose 0.3% at $1.1758, while dollar/yen held steady at 105.33.
Investors focused on what the US election outcome means for fiscal stimulus later. Fifteen days out from election day, Biden leads Trump by about 10 points in national polls.
"The impact of the election assuming the Democrats win is somewhat bullish for emerging markets, but has no clear impact on euro/dollar," said Sebastien Galy, analyst at Nordea Asset Management.
Elsewhere, the British pound rose by 0.4% versus the euro to 90.41 pence on hopes the deadlock in Brexit talks can be broken. Versus the dollar, sterling rose 0.6% at $1.30.