Australia’s dollar gained to its strongest since September 2008 versus the yen and a three-week high versus the greenback as Chinese data showed imports rose to a record in the nation’s biggest overseas market.
The New Zealand dollar, known as the kiwi, climbed to the highest level in more than four years against the yen as Asian stocks advanced for a second day on Chinese growth optimism.
“The Chinese data is a whole lot better than anyone expected with both imports and exports accelerating,” said Mike Jones, a currency strategist at Bank of New Zealand in Wellington. “That will only add to recent investor optimism that the Chinese rebound has got legs and should take the Aussie dollar higher.”
Australia’s currency climbed 0.3 percent to $1.0552 as of 4:31 p.m. in Sydney after touching $1.0555, its strongest since Dec. 18. The currency strengthened 0.7 percent to 93.03 yen, the most since September 2008.
New Zealand’s dollar gained 0.1 percent to 84.05 U.S. cents. It rose as high as 74.10 yen, the strongest since September 2008, before trading at 74.09 yen from 73.78 yesterday.
China’s exports rose 14.1 percent in December from a year earlier while imports increased 6 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $31.6 billion, the customs administration said today.
The pickup in shipments abroad compares with the 5 percent median estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg News survey and a projected 3.5 percent increase for imports.
Westpac Banking Corp. said it was stopped out of a trade to sell the Australian dollar versus Canada’s when the C$1.0390 level was breached after the Chinese data “smashed consensus.”
“We would not revisit this trade near term, with risk atmospherics broadly positive for the Australian dollar this month,” the bank said in an e-mailed report.
The Aussie climbed as much as 0.3 percent to C$1.0417, having closed yesterday at C$1.0384.
Australian home-building approvals advanced for the third time in four months in November as lower interest rates encouraged plans for apartment projects, the statistics bureau said today. The number of permits granted to build or renovate houses and apartments gained 2.9 percent from October, in line with the median forecast for a 3 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey of 13 economists.
The nation’s 10-year bond yield rose four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 3.44 percent, ending three days of declines. The yield on the three-year security climbed five basis points to 2.84 percent.
New Zealand’s annual trade deficit swelled to the widest in more than three years in November as imports rose to a four-year high and a rising currency curbed returns from exports, a report today showed.
New Zealand’s two-year swap rate, a fixed payment made to receive floating rates which is sensitive to interest-rate expectations, rose to 2.77 percent from 2.73 percent.