SYDNEY/WELLINGTON: The Australian dollar headed for a fifth straight session of losses on Wednesday on yet another disappointing piece of economic data and as markets trimmed the probability of aggressive policy easing in the United States.
The Australian dollar was last down 0.1% at $0.6921, not far from the day's low of $0.6919 - a level not seen since June 21.
It broke below crucial chart support of $0.6956 on Tuesday, triggering stop losses in the currency overnight and signalling the risk of a further move down, technical analysts said.
The New Zealand dollar was a shade lower at $0.6604 after hitting a near three-week trough of $0.6567 earlier in the day.
Both currencies have lost ground on their U.S. counterpart since upbeat U.S. jobs report doused expectations for a sharp rate cut from the Federal Reserve at the end of this month.
Futures currently imply less than a 3% chance of a 50-basis-point easing, compared with 25% ahead of the data. A cut of 25 basis points is still fully priced in, leaving the market vulnerable should Fed Chair Jerome Powell sound less dovish in testimony to Congress later in the day.
Closer to home, data out on Wednesday showed a gauge of Australian consumer confidence collapsed to a two-year low this month, dismal readings that could pile pressure on the country's central bank and the government for more policy support.
The weak report comes just one day after a closely-watched measure of Australian business conditions retreated in June, suggesting the business sector too has lost momentum.
"Disappointing readings on consumer and business confidence justifies stimulus by policymakers to shore-up Australia's slowing economy," said Craig James, chief economist at CommSec.
"The Reserve Bank is expected to assess incoming economic data over the coming months before deciding the next move for the cash rate."
Australia's economy expanded at its slowest pace in a decade in the first quarter of the year and initial indications are that the poor run extended into the June quarter.
That explains why the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has cut rates twice since June to a record low 1% and why financial markets are wagering on at least one more easing to 0.75%.
New Zealand government bonds were barely changed.
Australian government bond futures eased, with the three-year bond contract slipping 2 ticks to 99.060. The 10-year contract eased 3 ticks to 98.645.