SYDNEY, Dec 16 (Reuters) – The Australian and New Zealand dollars held near multi-year highs on Wednesday as the prospect of a vaccine-led global economic recovery underpinned risk assets and commodity prices.
The Aussie stood at $0.7554, up from a low of $0.7508 and just off a recent peak of $0.7578. That was the highest since June 2018 when it topped out at $0.7677, the next major chart target.
The kiwi held at $0.7086, not far from its own recent high of $0.7120 and up 7% since the start of November.
The Aussie took a knock on Tuesday when China confirmed a ban on Australian thermal coal in an on-going trade spat.
Daniel Hynes, a senior commodity strategist at ANZ, noted China had taken around 30% of Australia’s thermal coal exports in 2018 but that had fallen to around 10% for October this year.
“Australian exporters have found additional buyers in South Korea, Vietnam and Japan,” he said. “As such we see Australia’s thermal coal exports holding up relatively well, despite the Chinese ban.”
Iron ore is by far a bigger export earner and has been surging in price to a near eight-year peak amid strong Chinese demand and supply problems.
Ore exports are worth more than A$100 billion ($76 billion) a year and rising, delivering a windfall to government tax coffers.
The government will release its mid-year fiscal review on Thursday, which is expected to show some improvement in the budget deficit.
Gareth Aird, head of Australian economics at CBA, estimates the 2020/21 budget deficit will now be projected to be around A$10 billion smaller, though still massive at A$204 billion.
“The size of the projected budget deficits will remain extraordinary,” said Aird. “But the news around both nominal GDP and the labour market is significantly better than expected since the October Budget.”
That deficit is being funded by the biggest government borrowing program in Australian history, but so far demand for the debt has been more than ample.
Yields on 10-year bonds were holding at 0.989%, having spiked as high as 1.08% last week.
Three-year cash yields were pinned at 0.12%, near the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) target rate of 0.1%. Three-year bond futures, however, fell to a four-week low at 99.800, as the December contract rolled over into March.
That implied an yield of 0.20%, suggesting investors expected the economy to keep improving and thus put upward pressure on cash yields.
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