Aussie Near Strongest in Nine Months as Yen Falls for Second Day

  • Malaysian ringgit advances sixth day after oil jumped Tuesday
  • Yen weakens for second day, dropping versus all 16 major peers

The Australian dollar was near the strongest in nine months and Malaysian ringgit rallied on speculation major oil suppliers will reach an accord to freeze output, paving the way for higher crude prices.

The Aussie and New Zealand’s kiwi were bolstered after a China trade report added to evidence of stabilization in the world’s second-largest economy. Malaysia’s ringgit advanced for a sixth day on optimism a higher crude price will support the region’s only major net oil exporter. The yen weakened for a second day as demand for safer assets waned.

“The Aussie mood is increasingly bullish," said Sean Callow, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Sydney. “Surging iron ore and oil prices help as does a more stable dollar-yen.”

Australia’s dollar was little changed at 76.77 U.S. cents as of 7:03 a.m. in London after rising to 77.23 cents on March 31, the highest level since July 1. The kiwi rose 0.1 percent to 69.28 U.S. cents, extending its four-day rally to 2.2 percent.

Oil has surged this week on optimism a meeting of at least 16 nations in Doha on Sunday will agree to keep output at January levels. There’s hope a deal to cap production can be reached April 17 regardless of Iran’s position, said Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov. Crude jumped 4.5 percent Tuesday before falling back 1.4 percent Wednesday.

The ringgit led gains in Asia on speculation a production freeze will help sustain a rebound in the commodity and bolster finances for Malaysia.

The currency climbed 0.3 percent to 3.8685 per dollar after reaching 3.8465, the strongest level since August.

China’s exports jumped 18.7 percent in yuan terms last month from a year earlier, compared with a 21 percent slump in February. Imports extended a streak of declines to 17 months while the drop narrowed to 1.7 percent.

“The fact that imports were not as bad as expected is actually a good sign for commodity exporters like Australia and New Zealand,” said Chester Liaw, a senior economist at Forecast Pte Ltd in Singapore. “China data have reflected stronger and steadier demand for commodities over the past one or two months.”

The yen weakened 0.3 percent to 108.89 per dollar after sliding 0.6 percent on Tuesday. The currency surged to 107.63 on Monday, the strongest level since October 2014.

“A weaker yen is usually associated with Japan having confidence in the world economy, investing in foreign assets, and the Aussie benefits in that sort of environment," Westpac’s Callow said.

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