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Australian, N.Z. Dollars Rise to Highest Versus Yen Since 2008

The Australian and New Zealand dollars rose to the strongest against the yen in more than four years as the Japanese currency tumbled on bets policy makers will work to push it down further to spur economic growth.

The Aussie dollar fell versus its U.S. counterpart after Australian employers unexpectedly cut payrolls last month. New Zealand’s currency, nicknamed the kiwi, depreciated against the greenback before data that may show China’s economic growth in the fourth quarter was close to the slowest since 2009. China is Australia’s largest trading partner and New Zealand’s second-biggest export destination.

“The key catalyst for the Aussie will be the outcome of China’s numbers,” Richard Franulovich, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in New York, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Australia’s dollar climbed 1.4 percent to 94.79 yen yesterday in New York trading and touched 95.02 yen, the strongest level since August 2008. It fell 0.3 percent to $1.0546.

The kiwi appreciated 1.1 percent to 75.16 yen and reached 75.83, the highest since September 2008. It declined 0.6 percent to 83.63 U.S. cents.

The yen slid versus all of its 16 most-traded peers tracked by Bloomberg after Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said his Jan. 15 comments that excessive weakening of the currency was harmful were misinterpreted. Amari told reporters in Tokyo yesterday the yen is still correcting from excessive appreciation.

BOJ Agreement

The Bank of Japan and government officials reached basic agreement on a joint statement calling for a 2 percent inflation target, versus the current 1 percent goal, and additional funds for purchasing assets, Nikkei reported without attribution. The BOJ meets Jan. 21-22.

Gross domestic product in China expanded 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, according to another Bloomberg survey. It was 7.4 percent in the previous period, the least in more than three years. GDP grew 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Employment in Australia fell by 5,500 jobs in December, the government reported, compared with a forecast in a Bloomberg News survey for a 4,000-position increase.

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