SYDNEY/WELLINGTON: The Australian and New Zealand dollars were holding their ground on Wednesday as the market waited for some clarity to emerge on Sino-U.S. trade, while soft economic data at home had only a fleeting impact.
President Donald Trump is open to reaching a deal over dinner on Saturday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping but is ready to hike tariffs if there is no breakthrough, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday.
Yet with the clock ticking, it was unclear whether the two sides had agreed on a formal agenda for the leaders' talks after the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
The uncertainty kept the Aussie steady at $0.7231, bound between bids at $0.7199 and offers around $0.7276. The kiwi dollar stood at $0.6791, with support at Tuesday's low of $0.6754 and resistance layered around $0.6810/20.
Both were aided by gains on the euro, pound and yen as each suffered from troubles of their own.
Australian data out on Wednesday disappointed, with construction work falling 2.8 percent in the third quarter when analysts had looked for a rise of 1 percent.
Westpac economist Andrew Hanlan said the miss would dent economic growth in the quarter, figures for which are due out next week. He has been looking at a quarterly rise of 0.7 percent in GDP, with annual growth of 3.4 percent.
"Risks to this number are now clearly to the downside," said Hanlan.
"Although, we are mindful that jobs growth was robust in the quarter - a labour market performance which suggests the economy continued to move ahead at a solid pace."
Over in New Zealand, the country's central bank said it would ease some restrictions on home lending in a positive step for the housing market, but also warned banks that they would need to raise their capital buffers.
In bond markets, Australian futures were up near their highest in almost a month, thanks in part to expectations the recent 30 percent plunge in oil prices would drag on inflation.
Petrol prices had been one of the largest contributors to inflation, climbing almost 21 percent in the year to September. Yet annual inflation had only edged up to 1.9 percent and was still under the RBA's target band of 2-3 percent.
The fall in oil prices, if sustained, could thus stop inflation from moving above 2 percent in coming months and limit the need for a hike in interest rates.
The three-year bond contract was steady at 97.3750, while the 10-year contract firmed another 1.5 ticks to 97.3750.
Yields on New Zealand government bonds were down around 2 basis points and again near their lowest since early November.