Aussie Drops Versus Peers as Payrolls Unexpectedly Fell

Australia’s dollar slid versus all of its 16 major counterparts after a report today showed employers in the country unexpectedly cut payrolls last month, adding to concern the domestic economy is slowing.

The so-called Aussie weakened versus the greenback and dropped for a third day against the yen after the jobless rate rose. New Zealand’s dollar, known as the kiwi, fell as Asian stocks reversed earlier gains, damping demand for higher-yielding assets.

Today’s data “underscores much of the economic weakness from last year,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, a currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Singapore. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit more of a correction in the Aussie toward the $1.05 level, but I still think dips will be well-supported.”

Australia’s dollar lost 0.6 percent to $1.0513 at 5:17 p.m. in Sydney. It dropped 0.3 percent to 93.19 yen, extending its 1.2 percent decline in the previous two days. New Zealand’s currency slid 0.2 percent to 83.96 U.S. cents after rising 0.2 percent yesterday. It was little changed at 74.41 yen.

Ten-year yields in Australia dropped to as low as 3.28 percent, the least since Dec. 31. New Zealand’s two-year swap rate, a fixed payment made to receive floating rates which is sensitive to rate expectations, was little changed at 2.78 percent. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of shares lost 0.1 percent gaining as much as 0.6 percent earlier today.

Australia’s statistics bureau said the number of people employed in the country fell in December by 5,500 after a revised 17,100 gain in the previous month. The jobless rate rose to 5.4 percent from 5.3 percent in November.

Chinese Recovery

“In the very, very short term, there’s a risk to the downside for the Aussie,” said Thomas Harr, head of Asia local markets strategy at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore. “That said, I think the theme is still that we have a China recovery, which is very important for Australia.”

Figures tomorrow may show gross domestic product in China, Australia’s largest trading partner and New Zealand’s second-biggest export destination, expanded 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. That would be up from a three-year low of 7.4 percent in the previous period.

Traders are the least bearish on the Australian dollar in more than three years, according to three-month 25-delta option risk reversal rates. The premium they are willing to pay for put options, which give the right to sell the currency, over calls, which allow for purchases, shrank to 0.6 percent on Jan. 14, the least since October 2009.

The Aussie rose 1.6 percent in the past three months, according to Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes, a set of gauges that track developed-nation currencies. New Zealand’s kiwi climbed 2.6 percent.

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