Aussie, kiwi seen climbing by year-end as Fed pauses: Reuters poll

February 6, 2019

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian and New Zealand dollars are seen firmer in coming months, a Reuters poll showed, as the U.S. Federal Reserve signals a policy pause although gains will be limited on uncertainties over global growth.

A Reuters survey of up to 46 analysts saw median predictions for the Aussie at $0.7200 on a three-month horizon, unchanged from the previous poll and from current levels of $0.7154.

Analysts marginally lifted their projections for 6 months to $0.73 from $0.72 earlier while the currency is seen at $0.7400 on a 12-month horizon, again unchanged from previous expectations.

An indication of the uncertainties playing on investors’ mind is the broad range of forecasts, from as low as $0.6700 to as high as $0.8200 on a 12-month horizon.

The survey comes amid renewed downward pressure on the Australian currency, which shed nearly 10 percent in 2018, and hit a one-week low on Wednesday as the country’s central bank shifted to a neutral stance from a previous tightening bias.

Underwhelming economic data at home has led investors to start pricing in a near 60-percent chance of a rate cut by year-end. A full 25-basis-point cut is seen by mid-2020, a remarkable shift from just a couple of months ago when investors were positioned for a rate hike.

But even a 50-basis-point cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia is unlikely to send the Aussie below $0.7000, analysts at NAB said in a note while pointing out the recent strength in prices for iron ore, base metals, oil and gold – all of which are positively correlated with the Aussie.

“This might be suggesting that some of the fears about the extent of a slowing in China demand are overblown,” NAB said.

“We remain comfortable characterizing AUD/USD as a $0.70-0.75 currency, likely for a good while yet.”

The trade-exposed currency has been used by investors to wager on, or hedge against, tensions in emerging markets and the risks to the Chinese economy from U.S. tariffs.

For the kiwi, analysts nudged up their near-term forecasts and see it rising to $0.7000 by year-end, compared with about $0.6866 on Wednesday.

They see the currency stuck around $0.6700-$0.6800 in one, three and six months’ time, according to the median of up to 37 forecasts.

To be sure, some analysts see substantial downside risks. For 12 months ahead, forecasts stretch as low as $0.6100.

The kiwi stumbled in 2018, shedding more than 5 percent against the U.S. dollar, although better-than-expected domestic data has helped cap losses.

(Polling by Tushar Goenka and Manjul Paul; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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