Aussie Dollar Touches 12-Week Low After Jobs Data; Kiwi Declines

Australia’s dollar touched the weakest level since November after employment data failed to signal improvement that would rule out further easing by the central bank to support the economy.

The so-called Aussie swayed between gains and losses after the figures showed a lower-than-expected unemployment rate and an increase in payrolls. The number of full-time jobs declined while part-time employment increased, according to the report. The Reserve Bank of Australia said this week the inflation outlook “would afford scope to ease policy further” after it kept borrowing costs at a half-century low. New Zealand’s dollar slid on data showing that employers cut jobs.

“The details in the jobs data are less impressive than the headline number, and that will temper any gains in the Aussie dollar,” said Mitul Kotecha, Hong Kong-based head of currency strategy at Credit Agricole SA. “It was slightly better than expected, but it’s mostly driven by part-time jobs. I don’t think this will change the RBA perspective.”

The Aussie touched $1.0297, matching the lowest since Nov. 16, before trading at $1.0332 at 6:12 p.m. in Sydney, little changed from yesterday’s close. It fell 1.1 percent in the previous two sessions. Australia’s currency fetched 96.73 yen from 96.63 yesterday, when it lost 0.7 percent.

New Zealand’s dollar weakened 0.3 percent to 83.73 U.S. cents and touched 83.52, the lowest since Jan. 31. The so-called kiwi depreciated 0.3 percent to 78.40 yen.

Employment Data

The number of people employed in Australia increased by 10,400 last month from December, the statistics bureau said in Sydney today. That compares with the 6,000 gain predicted by the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

The number of full-time jobs declined by 9,800, and part-time employment rose by 20,200, today’s report showed. Australia’s participation rate, a measure of the labor force in proportion to the population, fell to 65 percent from 65.1 percent a month earlier.

Data yesterday showed Australian retail sales fell 0.2 percent in December from the previous month, the longest stretch of declines in 13 years.

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens and his board left the overnight cash rate target at 3 percent on Feb. 5. Interest-rate swaps data compiled by Bloomberg show traders see a 50 percent chance the RBA will lower the rate on March 5.

The yield on Australia’s 10-year bonds fell six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 3.47 percent.

Demand for New Zealand’s currency was limited as data signaled jobseekers gave up searching for work.

N.Z. Jobs

Employment slumped 1 percent, or 23,000 jobs, from the third quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today in Wellington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey was for a 0.4 percent gain. The jobless rate fell to 6.9 percent from 7.3 percent as the participation rate reached the lowest in eight years.

“The fall in the currency was to be expected given the drop off in employment and the participation rate, but we look at these levels as a chance to buy the dips, particularly against the Aussie dollar,” said Mike Jones, a currency strategist at Bank of New Zealand in Wellington. “Labor market figures are a lagging indicator and the broader picture is one where the New Zealand economy appears to be accelerating.”

Australia’s dollar rose 0.4 percent to NZ$1.2343 from yesterday, when it slid to NZ$1.222, the lowest since July 2010.

New Zealand’s two-year swap rate, a fixed payment made to receive a floating rate, fell one basis point to 2.89 percent.

Demand for the so-called Aussie and kiwi was supported before data tomorrow that may improve the South Pacific nations’ trade prospects. China’s imports probably increased 23.5 percent in January from a year earlier and exports grew 17.5 percent, according to the median estimates of economists surveyed by Bloomberg before the customs administration releases its figures tomorrow.

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