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N.Z. Dollar Rises to Two-Month High on Eased European Concern

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Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The New Zealand dollar increased to the highest level in two months and the Australian currency advanced on speculation European leaders are making progress in addressing Europe’s debt crisis, buoying risk assets.

The South Pacific currencies also gained on speculation the People’s Bank of China will cut reserve requirements again after a report showed the nation’s import growth slowed to a two-year low in December. Australia’s currency reached a record high against the 17-nation euro.

“There’s a little bit of improved risk sentiment,” said Andrew Salter, a currency strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Sydney. “The market underestimates the determination of European leaders to find a solution.”

Australia’s dollar appreciated 0.7 percent to $1.0315 at 1:09 p.m. New York time. The Aussie rallied to a record high of 80.89 euro cents before trading at 80.75. New Zealand’s currency gained 0.8 percent to 79.35 U.S. cents after reaching 79.66, the highest level since Nov. 9.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Greece would be the focus of talks today in Berlin with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

“We want Greece to stay in the euro,” Merkel said at a joint press conference yesterday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy following their meeting.

China’s imports rose 11.8 percent from a year before, less than all 21 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey of economists, a government report showed today in Beijing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariko Ishikawa in Tokyo at mishikawa9@bloomberg.net

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

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