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Markets

Australia, NZ dollars pumped up by US stimulus splurge

  • That in turn is a driver of consumer spending and a windfall to government tax receipts.
Published January 15, 2021

SYDNEY: The Australian and New Zealand dollars stood firm on Friday as the promise of massive US fiscal stimulus brightened the outlook for global growth and resource prices.

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a $1.9 trillion package to jump-start the economy.

That was a boon to growth-sensitive currencies such as the Aussie, which held at $0.7774, having stretched as far as $0.7805 overnight. It was up from a $0.7666 low early in the week, and not far from the recent high at $0.7819.

It also reached some notable milestones on the cross rates, hitting its highest since late 2018 against both the euro and the yen while breaking major chart barriers.

The kiwi dollar firmed to $0.7218, but struggled to clear resistance at $0.7240. Support comes in at the week low of $0.7148, while the recent peak at $0.7314 stands as a major chart barrier.

The US currency was also undermined by a dovish outlook from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who showed no inclination to taper asset purchases anytime soon.

The prospect of more US borrowing dented Treasuries and saw local bonds outperform.

Australian 10-year yields edged up to 1.09% but US yields rose even more so the spread between the two moved to -3 basis points. It had been as wide as +11 basis points in December.

A surprisingly brisk recovery in the domestic economy means the Australian government needs to borrow a lot less than first projected.

Data out Friday showed home loan commitments surged 5.6% in November to an all-time high as record-low interest rates stoked demand in a market that is suddenly running hot again.

"The positive momentum in the property market is anticipated to continue," said Maree Kilroy, an economist for BIS Oxford Economics.

"Price growth has returned to all major markets with home buyer optimism on the up. This all bodes well for loan demand, both for established and new dwellings in the new year."

That in turn is a driver of consumer spending and a windfall to government tax receipts.

The Australian government on Friday confirmed it would borrow A$230 billion ($178.71 billion) in the 2020/21 fiscal year, much lowered than feared when the pandemic first struck last year.

It also planned to sell a new Nov. 2032 bond line by syndication, extending a run of record offers that have drawn strong demand from overseas funds.

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