Australian, N.Z. Dollars Strengthen Against Major Peers After China PMI

The Australia and New Zealand currencies gained versus most of their major counterparts as signs of improvement in Chinese manufacturing boosted the outlook for the South Pacific nations’ exports.

The so-called Aussie and kiwi rose against the dollar after China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index indicated an expansion in February for the third-straight month. The appeal of Australia’s currency was tempered after the nation’s building approvals climbed less than forecast in January and business investment fell in the fourth quarter. Gains in New Zealand’s dollar were limited after the country’s terms of trade index dropped and as Asian stocks declined.

Both currencies “are a little bit firmer,” said Sue Trinh, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong. “The stabilization of the numbers would support the idea that China’s in for a soft economic landing.”

Australia’s dollar rose 0.6 percent to $1.0798 at 12:01 p.m. in New York. It advanced 0.6 percent to 87.61 yen. New Zealand’s currency added 0.6 percent to 83.93 U.S. cents. It strengthened 0.6 percent to 68.09 yen.

The MSCI World Index of stocks rose 0.4 percent.

China’s purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.0 last month from 50.5 in January, the nation’s statistics bureau and logistics federation said in a statement today. That compares with the 50.9 median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Economic data in the first two months are distorted by the week-long Chinese New Year holiday.

Housing Numbers

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and New Zealand’s second-largest export destination.

The Australian dollar earlier pared its gain versus the dollar and yen after the Bureau of Statistics said the number of permits granted to build or renovate houses and apartments gained 0.9 percent in January from the previous month when they dropped a revised 0.8 percent. The result compares with the median forecast of a 2 percent rise in a separate Bloomberg poll.

Investor appetite for New Zealand’s currency was curbed after the country’s terms of trade index, which measures the price of exports relative to imports, dropped 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 from the previous three-month period, when it slumped a revised 0.6 percent, according to data released today.

To contact the reporter on this story: 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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