Australian, New Zealand Dollars Rise as U.S. Jobs Report Boosts Demand

The Australian and New Zealand dollars strengthened against the U.S. dollar after a report showed employers in the world’s biggest economy added more jobs than forecast in January, boosting appetite for risky assets.

The Aussie reached a five-month high, erasing earlier losses. New Zealand’s currency, nicknamed the kiwi, also rose as stocks and commodity prices increased.

“Strong growth and still-low interest rates in the U.S. are good for Aussie,” said Adam Carr, a senior economist in Sydney at ICAP Australia Ltd., a unit of the world’s biggest interdealer broker.

Australia’s dollar rose 0.6 percent to $1.0776 at 11:25 a.m. in New York and reached $1.07778, the strongest level since Aug. 4. The Aussie strengthened 1 percent to 82.449 yen. New Zealand’s currency advanced 0.5 percent to 83.70 U.S. cents. The kiwi gained 0.8 percent to 64.035 yen.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 1.3 percent and the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials gained 0.5 percent.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 243,000, after a revised 203,000 gain in December, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median of 89 economists in a Bloomberg Survey had forecast an addition of 140,000. The unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.

At a meeting last month, the Federal Reserve pledged to keep its interest rate near zero until late 2014. The accommodative policy tends to drive investors away from the dollar as they seek higher yields elsewhere.

Greek Rescue

The Aussie and kiwi dropped earlier as concern mounted Greece is struggling to conclude a deal on a second international bailout. The rescue plan, which European officials and creditors say may be wrapped up in coming days, includes a loss of more than 70 percent for debt investors in a voluntary exchange and loans likely to exceed the 130 billion euros now on the table.

The antipodean currencies completed a seventh-straight week of gains. The Australian dollar gained 1 percent against the greenback this week and New Zealand’s tender rose 1.4 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Catarina Saraiva in New York at asaraiva5@bloomberg.net; Kristine Aquino in Singapore at kaquino1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dave Liedtka at dliedtka@bloomberg.net

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