Australian Dollar Near Two-Month High as Rate-Cut Bets Decline

The Australian dollar traded 0.1 percent from its highest in two months as traders pared bets on further interest rates cuts by the Reserve Bank and Governor Glenn Stevens didn’t address monetary policy in comments today.

The so-called Aussie climbed against 15 of 16 major peers this month as swaps indicated a 14 percent probability that the nation’s 3 percent benchmark will be lowered when policy makers meet April 2, Bloomberg data show. New Zealand’s kiwi dollar was 0.3 percent from a one-month high as the nation reported an unexpected trade surplus for February.

“Markets aren’t seeing any easing from the RBA next month so that is a factor supporting the currency,” said Matt Cramer, senior foreign-exchange manager in Sydney at Velocity Trade Ltd. “There’s been consistent buying of the Aussie and the Stevens speech had very little implications for the currency.”

The Australian dollar was at $1.0466 as of 5:18 p.m. in Sydney after yesterday reaching as high as $1.0480, the strongest since Jan. 24. It was unchanged at 98.56 yen. New Zealand’s currency was little changed at 83.54 U.S. cents and yesterday touched 83.71, the most since Feb. 25. The kiwi was at 78.67 yen.

The RBA’s Australian dollar trade-weighted index rose 0.1 to 79.3 today, matching the level reached in March 2012, which was the highest since 1985.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of stocks fell 0.2 percent.

Rates Prospects

Traders are predicting the RBA will lower its benchmark rate by 15 basis points over the next 12 months, down from estimates for 46 basis points of cuts on March 1, according to a Credit Suisse Group AG index.

Governor Stevens said today that a reconstructed bailout deal for Cyprus was better than the initial proposal and European authorities are likely to remain “case specific” in their response to crisis. He didn’t comment on monetary policy and declined to answer a question on fiscal policy.

New Zealand’s statistics bureau reported a trade surplus of NZ$414 million ($346 million) in February, compared with the median estimate for a NZ$12 million deficit in a Bloomberg poll. The 12-month trade gap was NZ$1.08 billion, the data showed.

Australia’s 10-year bond yield fell six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 3.58 percent. New Zealand’s two-year swap rate, a fixed payment made to receive floating rates which is sensitive to interest-rate expectations rose to 2.92 percent from 2.90 percent yesterday.

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