Aussie, Kiwi Rise on Risk Appetite as Asian Stocks Gain

The Australian and New Zealand dollars rose for the first time in three days as global stocks rallied after U.S. retail sales gained the most in five months.

The New Zealand dollar advanced against most of its 16 major counterparts after reports showed the nation’s house and food prices increased in February. The appeal of Australia’s currency was limited after home loans in the country fell more than economists estimated and business confidence slumped to a five-month low.

“Stocks are on firm footing, so the Aussie and kiwi are steadily recouping the declines from yesterday,” said Kumiko Gervaise, an analyst in Tokyo at Research Institute Ltd., a unit of Japan’s largest online currency margin-trading company.

Australia’s dollar rose 0.2 percent to $1.0537 at 12:55 p.m. New York time. Yesterday it touched $1.0474, the lowest since Jan. 25. The so-called Aussie traded 0.7 percent stronger at 87.10 yen.

New Zealand’s currency advanced 0.5 percent to 82.18 U.S. cents. The so-called kiwi climbed 1 percent to 67.95 yen, after dropping 0.7 percent yesterday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.9 percent and the MSCI World Index of stocks gained 1 percent as retail sales in the U.S. rose 1.1 percent in February, according Commerce Department figures.

New Zealand Economy

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Inc.’s index of house prices increased 0.8 percent to 3,280.5 last month, according to an e-mailed statement released today. The number of transactions rose 37 percent from a year earlier, the institute said.

New Zealand’s February food prices climbed 0.6 percent from the previous month, the statistics bureau said today. The country’s two-year swap rate, a fixed payment made to receive floating rates, increased four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 3.05 percent.

“We had some housing data and food price data that was a little bit stronger than you would have expected,” said Imre Speizer, a strategist in Auckland at Westpac Banking Corp., Australia’s second-largest lender. “The Aussie has gone up, so the kiwi has gone up as well.”

The number of loans granted to build or buy houses and apartments in Australia dropped 1.2 percent in January from the previous month, the statistics bureau said in Sydney today. That compared with a revised 2.1 percent increase in December and the 0.6 percent decline that was the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

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