(January 18, 2018) The Aussie held steady in Asia on Thursday after a surprise gain in jobs in December was offset by a higher participation rate in the survey and with currency traders awaiting growth figures from Beijing expected to show continued robust gains for the economy.
AUD/USD traded at 0.7974, up 0.09% ahead of key data from top trading partner China. USD/JPY changed hands at 111.28, down 0.03%. Australia said the economy added 34,700 jobs in December, well above an expected gain of 9,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.5% from a steady 5.4% level expected as the participation rate rose to 65.7% from 65.5%.
China reports fourth quarter GDP on Thursday that is expected to show a 6.7% gain on year and a 1.6% rise on quarter. In the third quarter, GDP rose 6.8% on year and 1.7% on quarter.
As well, in China industrial production is expected to post a 6.0% gain on year in December from 6.1% in November and retail sales are seen up 10.1% on year in December, compared to 10.2% in November.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was last quoted up 0.47% to 90.65.
Overnight, the dollar traded modestly higher against a basket of major currencies amid mixed US economic data which failed to offset losses following an uptick in the loonie and sterling.
US industrial production increased more than expected in December buoyed by strong gains in mining production, but manufacturing output fell short of expectations amid the recent cold snap across the U.S.
Industrial output surged 0.9% in December last month, beating expectations for a 0.4% rise, while manufacturing output rose just 0.1% in December, falling short of expectations for a 0.3% rise.
A rise in sterling against the dollar to $1.3835, the highest level since the EU referendum vote, weighed on the greenback but losses were limited by a slump in the euro.
European Central Bank (ECB) officials attempted to quash investor expectations that the central bank would announce plans to unwind its massive stimulus program at next week’s meeting.
ECB’s Vitor Constancio reportedly said changes to central bank’s forward guidance “would not be immediate” as inflation remained below target, while the ECB’s Ewald Nowotny said the euro exchange rate “must be observed”.
As was widely expected, the Bank of Canada raised its overnight rate by 0.25% to 1.25%, while citing the need for ongoing ‘accommodation’ to ensure inflation remained on target.
Market participants viewed the central bank’s accompanying monetary policy statement as “dovish,” noting that the central bank may not raise rates as fast as markets had anticipated, which could weigh on the loonie.