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Australian Dollar Reaches Strongest Versus Greenback Since March

The Australian dollar touched the highest level in more than four months against its U.S. counterpart amid speculation the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank may undertake further monetary stimulus.

The currency also gained after a report showed Australia’s building approvals decreased by less than economists expected. New Zealand’s dollar reached the strongest in almost three months against the greenback. The South Pacific currencies pared gains as risk appetite ebbed and global stocks fell.

Australia’s dollar rose to $1.0538, the highest since March 27, before trading little changed at $1.0503 yesterday in New York. It traded at 82.06 yen.

New Zealand’s dollar, nicknamed the kiwi, reached 81.22 U.S. cents, the most since May 2, before trading little changed at 80.87 cents. It slipped 0.1 percent to 63.17 yen.

The Aussie climbed 2.6 percent in July against the greenback, beating all of its 16 most-traded peers. The kiwi gained 0.9 percent.

The number of permits granted to build or renovate houses and apartments in Australia declined 2.5 percent in June after rising a revised 27 percent in the previous period, the Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. The result compares with the median forecast of a 15 percent drop in a Bloomberg News survey.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index climbed 1.2 percent, while the MSCI World Index of stocks rose as much as 0.2 percent before falling 0.3 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent and fell 0.4 percent.

The Fed, which ends a policy meeting today, delayed introducing a third round of asset purchases known as quantitative easing at its June session. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke indicated later it’s still an option. The central bank bought $2.3 trillion of securities in two rounds from 2008 to 2011 to spur growth.

The ECB meets tomorrow.

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