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Dollar riding high


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The Australian dollar has hit a new four-month high as it looks more likely that the cash rate won’t be reduced again this interest rate cycle.

Early Thursday, the local unit was trading at 92.32 US cents, up from 91.98 cents on Wednesday.

In overnight trade, the currency peaked at 92.46 US cents, its highest level since November 22.

In a speech in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens gave an upbeat assessment of the Australian economy and did not make any comments about the currency being too high.

BK Asset Management managing director Kathy Lien said investors continued to aggressively buy the Australian dollar.

“From its 86.60 US cents low set in late January, the currency has appreciated nearly seven per cent over the past two months,” she said.

“While slowing Chinese growth poses a major risk for Australia’s economy, the Reserve Bank’s decision to shift from an easing to neutral monetary policy bias kicked off the rally in Australian dollar in early February.

“Since then, signs of improvement in the domestic economy reinforced the central bank’s brighter outlook, giving investors strong reasons to unwind their short positions.”

Lien said the RBA governor’s comments in Hong Kong helped push the currency higher.

“It was not so much what he said but what he didn’t say that sent the currency pair to year-to-date highs,” she said.

“Having previously expressed a desire to see the Australian dollar closer to 85 US cents, Stevens refused to talk down the currency and, in fact, didn’t overtly mention their discomfort with the level of exchange rate, even though it is seven cents higher than where they would have liked to see it back in December.

“While every policy-making body would prefer a weaker currency in a low inflation, slow growth environment, in the case of Australia, they have become more tolerable of a stronger currency now that the economy is performing better.”

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