Aussie, N.Z. Dollars Climb as Risk Appetite Increases on China

Australia’s dollar rallied to its strongest level since August 2008 against the yen and a four-week high versus the greenback as Chinese imports rose to a record in the nation’s biggest overseas market.

The New Zealand dollar, nicknamed the kiwi, climbed to the highest level since September 2008 against the yen as investors’ appetite for higher-yielding assets increased and stocks and commodities rose. The European Central Bank refrained from cutting its benchmark interest rate and said the euro region’s economy should gradually recover.

“There was broader improvement in risk appetite, starting in Asia with better Chinese trade numbers,” Mike Moran, a senior currency strategist at Standard Chartered Plc in New York, said in an interview.

Australia’s currency strengthened 1.8 percent to 94.02 yen and reached 94.12 yesterday in New York trading. The currency climbed 0.8 percent to $1.0596 and touched $1.0599, its strongest since Sept. 14.

New Zealand’s dollar rose as high as 75.08 yen, the strongest since September 2008, before trading at 75, a 1.8 percent gain. It gained 0.7 percent to 84.56 U.S. cents.

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 yesterday.

The pickup in shipments abroad compared with forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey for a 5 percent export gain and a 3.5 percent rise in imports.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.8 percent, and S&P’s GSCI Index of 24 raw materials advanced 0.6 percent.

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