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Aussie Rises on Jobs Gains, Pares Advance on Bernanke

Australia’s dollar erased declines against most major peers after a government report showed an unexpected jump in employment.

The Aussie touched parity with the U.S. dollar as traders trimmed bets the Reserve Bank of Australia will reduce borrowing costs further after an interest-rate cut this week. The currency dropped back below the greenback after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke refrained from signaling additional steps the central bank might take to spur growth during congressional testimony.

New Zealand’s dollar, known as the kiwi, remained higher after gaining yesterday by the most this year amid speculation that Bernanke would identify the need for further stimulus.

Australia’s jobs report was “quite a bullish outcome,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, a currency strategist in Singapore at Westpac Banking Corp. “The risks are you see the market probably price out further RBA rate cuts from here, so naturally the Aussie dollar can probably find a little bit more support.”

Australia’s currency climbed 0.1 percent to 99.36 U.S. cents as of 10:58 a.m. in New York after touching $1.003 and falling as much as 0.5 percent. It advanced 0.6 percent to 79.09 yen.

The kiwi added 0.1 percent to 77.13 U.S. cents and 0.6 percent to 61.39 yen. Both South Pacific nations’ currencies surged 1.9 percent against the greenback yesterday, the most since Nov. 30.

Equity Advance

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of shares advanced 1.4 percent, bolstering investor appetite for riskier assets.

Australian payrolls jumped by 38,900 in May, the statistics bureau said today, while economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast no change. The jobless rate rose to 5.1 percent from a revised 5 percent in April as participation increased.

The data followed an official report yesterday that showed the nation’s gross domestic product expanded 1.3 percent in the first three months of this year from the fourth quarter, twice the pace economists estimated.

Traders bet the RBA will cut interest rates by 93 basis points in the next 12 months, down from 156 basis points of easing signaled on June 4, according to a gauge compiled by Credit Suisse Group AG based on overnight-index swap rates.

Australian bonds fell, pushing the yield on 10-year securities up by seven basis points, or 0.07 percentage point, to 3.07 percent.

The central bank reduced its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 3.5 percent on June 5, following a cut of 50 basis points in May.

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