Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FOREX-Aussie tumbles on talk of more interest rate cuts

The Australian dollar fell to a 2-1/2-month low on Tuesday on talk that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) might cut interest rates again this year, after its governor said the central bank was committed to inflation-targeting policy.

Glenn Stevens was speaking publicly for the first time since the RBA's policy review this month, when it cut the cash rate by a quarter point to a record low 1.75 percent, citing surprisingly low inflation.

That rate cut sent the Aussie dollar plunging by more than 2 percent in a day - its heftiest falls in 4-1/2 years AUD=D4[1] - and prompted s peculation that policy might be eased again.

On Tuesday, the Aussie fell 0.8 percent to $0.7162, its lowest since early March, also dragged down by a fall in oil prices that sapped demand for other commodity currencies too.

"The comments overnight have highlighted a vulnerability that was already existing - we had the rate cut a few weeks ago (and) the market has been toying with the idea of another move," Rabobank currency strategist, Jane Foley, said.

"What this was today was a prod at the Australian dollar to try to push it lower. If it wasn't pushing lower, the chances of an interest rate cut become more likely."

New Zealand's dollar, which tends to follow the Aussie's movements, also fell 0.7 percent to a two-month low of $0.6706 NZD=D4[2], while oil exporter Canada's dollar hit a seven-week low CAD=D4[3].

The U.S. dollar was stronger across the board, gaining 0.2 percent against a basket of major currencies .DXY at 95.433, following hawkish com ments late on Monday from Federal Reserve officials. That took the greenback close to a last week's two-month high of 95.502.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams said the central bank was on track to hike interest rates in June or July despite risks such as Britain's referendum on European Union membership, and will keep hiking next year given U.S. economic strength.

"The dollar index has stood tall overall amid a significant rise in the two-year U.S. Treasury yield. Trades preparing for a potential Fed rate hike in June are likely to continue," IG Securities FX analyst, Junichi Ishikawa, said.

(Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Louise Ireland)

References

  1. ^ AUD=D4 (www.reuters.com)
  2. ^ NZD=D4 (www.reuters.com)
  3. ^ CAD=D4 (www.reuters.com)

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