Australian, N.Z. Dollars Gain on Greek Vote, Home Loans Data

The Australian and New Zealand dollars rose, snapping three-day losses, after Greece passed austerity measures to qualify for an international bailout, boosting demand for riskier assets.

The so-called Aussie climbed against the yen after data showed that Australian home-loan approvals rose in December. The South Pacific nations’ currencies also strengthened against most major peers before figures tomorrow that may show U.S. retail sales and import prices rose in January.

“On the view that Greek legislation is passed, we can see a bit of upside for the Aussie dollar,” 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 0.2 percent to $1.0697 from the Feb. 10 close in New York as of 12:04 p.m. in Sydney. The Aussie appreciated 0.3 percent to 83.11 yen. The New Zealand dollar, known as the kiwi, climbed 0.4 percent to 82.98 U.S. cents and advanced 0.5 percent to 64.47 yen.

Australia’s government bonds were little changed with the yield on the 10-year security at 4 percent.

A total of 199 Greek lawmakers voted in favor of the austerity plan and 74 against, Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos said in remarks carried live on state-run Vouli TV.

“It is up to us, our vote, whether the country will remain in the euro or be led to a disorderly default,” Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told parliament. “Voting for the economic program and opening the road for a loan accord sets the basis for the modernization and recovery of the economy.”

Greek Vote

Passage of the austerity bill puts the spotlight on a meeting of euro-region finance ministers on Feb. 15 that must decide whether to approve the 130 billion euros ($172 billion) second aid package.

In Australia, the number of loans granted to build or buy houses and apartments gained 2.3 percent in December from the previous month, the most since May, after rising a revised 1.8 percent in November, the statistics bureau said in Sydney today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 1.8 percent increase.

“The domestic economy is very strong,” said ICAP’s Carr. “This will continue to support Aussie dollar risk trades in general.

Sales at U.S. retailers probably rose 0.8 percent last month from December, according to a Bloomberg poll of economists before the Commerce Department releases its figures tomorrow. Prices of goods imported into the U.S. increased 0.3 percent in January, a separate survey indicated before the Labor Department releases the data tomorrow.

National Australia Bank Ltd. revised up its first-quarter forecast for the Australian dollar to $1.05 from the previous projection of 96 U.S. cents in January, according to a research note published today.

-- Editors: Jonathan Annells, Benjamin Purvis

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