Aussie Climbs to 8-Month High as Jobless Rate Falls; Kiwi Rises

  • Jobless rate drops to 5.8% in February from 6% a month earlier
  • Kiwi rises for second day after GDP growth beats forecasts

Australia’s dollar advanced to an eight-month high after the jobless rate unexpectedly dropped. New Zealand’s currency gained as data on economic growth were better than analysts forecast.

The two currencies extended gains from Wednesday that came after the Federal Reserve scaled back expectations for the pace of interest-rate increases, damping demand for the U.S. dollar. The Aussie has surged 7 percent this month, the best performing major currency after the Brazilian real. Australia’s dollar climbed Thursday even as the jobs report showed employers added fewer workers in February than economists predicted.

“This morning’s employment data should do little to dampen enthusiasm for Australian dollar buying in a risk-on, U.S. dollar down environment,” Todd Elmer, a Singapore-based foreign-exchange strategist at Citigroup Inc., wrote in note to clients. The drop in the unemployment rate helped offset the disappointment in the jobs added figure, he said.

Australia’s dollar rose 1.2 percent to 76.40 U.S. cents as of 7:46 a.m. in London after appreciating to 76.43, the strongest level since July 3. The kiwi jumped 1.3 percent to 68.10 U.S. cents after gaining 1.9 percent on Wednesday.

Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent last month from 6 percent, the statistics department said, compared with a median economist estimate for no change. Employers added 300 workers from January, less than the 13,500 forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

Reserve Bank of Australia Assistant Governor Guy Debelle said Thursday the central bank would welcome a lower currency to help the economy rebalance away from mining-led growth.

Gross domestic product in New Zealand grew 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter, matching the pace in the previous three months, the statistics bureau in Wellington said Thursday. The expansion was faster than the 0.7 percent median forecast of economists.

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