The Australian and New Zealand dollars fell from almost the highest versus the yen in more than four years as the Japanese currency’s slide over the past three months prompted criticism of excessive exchange-rate moves.
The South Pacific currencies weakened as Russia’s central bank said the world’s leading economies are on the brink of a “currency war” as policy makers advocate weaker currencies to boost economic growth. The Aussie was little changed against its U.S. counterpart as data showed consumer confidence was at almost the lowest since October. New Zealand’s dollar gained versus the dollar as commodities rose.
“The recent tempering of investor optimism has caused both the Aussie and the kiwi to give back some of their recent gains,” Joe Manimbo, a market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions, a unit of Western Union Co., wrote in an e-mail. “Overall sentiment appears neutral, with their downside limited by mounting evidence of a recovering China, while U.S. fiscal uncertainty caps the upside.”
Australia’s dollar weakened 0.4 percent to 93.44 yen in New York trading yesterday. It reached 94.66 yen on Jan. 15, the strongest level since August 2008. The Aussie traded at $1.0572.
The kiwi, as the New Zealand dollar is called, depreciated 0.3 percent to 74.32 yen after touching 75.53 yen on Jan. 15, the highest since September 2008. The currency strengthened 0.2 to 84.10 U.S. cents.
Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 raw materials increased 0.2 percent.
The yen tumbled 12 percent over the past three months against nine other developed-market peers tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes as Japanese officials moved to boost inflation and spur economic growth. It was the biggest loser in the group. The Australian dollar gained 2.8 percent, and the kiwi climbed 3.3 percent.
“Japan is weakening the yen, and other countries may follow,” Bank Rossii First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said at a conference in Moscow yesterday. Reciprocal devaluations would hurt the global economy, Ulyukayev said.
Australia’s sentiment index for January rose 0.6 percent to 100.6, a Westpac Banking Corp. and Melbourne Institute showed yesterday in Sydney. This month’s figure was little changed from the 100.03 level in December that was the least since October. Readings about 100 indicate optimists outnumbered pessimists.