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SYDNEY: The Australian and New Zealand dollars were slightly lower on Tuesday, dragged down by lower commodity prices as inflation numbers in the two largest economies present the next tests of traders' thinking on the outlook for interest rates.

The Aussie was 0.25% lower at $0.7403, even as businesses reported a sharp rebound in sales and profits in October, when most coronavirus restrictions were lifted, and liberated consumers looked to spend big on travel and entertainment in coming weeks.

The currency has been trading within its $0.7359 to $0.7471 range since Nov. 4 but risks were "skewed down because RBA rate hike expectations can adjust lower," Commonwealth Bank strategists told clients in a note.

Markets are pricing a string of rate rises from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) starting next year despite the monetary authority saying it doesn't expect inflation and wage growth to be high enough for such a scenario until late 2023 at the earliest.

Price data from both China and the United States due on Wednesday could test central bankers' promises of patience before further tightening their monetary cycles.

Inflation expectations had tugged real US yields and the dollar a little lower overnight, particularly against the New Zealand dollar, but it had lost some of the gains on Tuesday.

The kiwi was trading 0.16% lower to $0.7156 after rising to $0.7176 overnight, as traders adjusted their expectations for a possible rate hike of 50 basis points by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand this month.

Strategists said the currencies were feeling pressure from lower thermal coal prices on Tuesday, and well as iron ore prices in recent days due to weak Chinese demand and swelling portside inventory of the steelmaking raw material.

Bond prices were slightly lower, moving New Zealand yields between one and two basis points higher across the curve. Across the Tasman sea, Australian bond yields in 10-year bonds also moved one basis point higher to 1.78%, while 3-year benchmark yields were were one point higher to 0.87%.

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