March 22 (Bloomberg) -- The Australian and New Zealand dollars fell as a private report signaled Chinese manufacturing may contract for a fifth month, stoking speculation demand will slow for the South Pacific nations’ exports.
The so-called Aussie slid versus most of its 16 major counterparts as investors boosted expectations of an interest-rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia. New Zealand’s currency dropped to a two-month low after data showed fourth-quarter gross domestic product expanded at half the pace economists estimated. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and New Zealand’s second-largest export destination.
“The momentum is clearly slowing in China, as indeed the authorities have tried to ensure,” said Callum Henderson, global head of currency research at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore. “The bias in the Aussie is clearly lower.”
The Australian dollar lost 0.9 percent to $1.0368 at 11:43 a.m. in New York after earlier sliding to $1.0336, the weakest since Jan. 17. It dropped 1.8 percent to 85.69 yen. New Zealand’s currency fell 0.9 percent to 80.84 U.S. cents after earlier reaching 80.59, the lowest level since Jan. 25. The so-called kiwi declined 1.8 percent to 66.80 yen.
The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 48.1 in March. That’s the lowest level in four months and compares with a final reading of 49.6 for February on the gauge which is published by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. Figures below 50 indicate contraction.
New Zealand’s GDP rose 0.3 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31 from the previous quarter, when it increased a revised 0.7 percent, a statistics bureau report today showed. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for 0.6 percent growth.
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