Australian dollar bides its time, CBA sees RBA hiking in June



By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars marked time on Tuesday as global markets waited to see how events in Ukraine would unfold, while strength in energy and metals prices favoured the Aussie over the kiwi.

The Aussie was holding at $0.7130 AUD=D3 , after bouncing from a low of $0.7086 overnight. Major resistance is up at $0.7248, while support comes in at $0.7100.

The kiwi dollar lagged at $0.6614 NZD=D3 , having slipped 0.7% overnight to test $0.6593 support. The failure to sustain last week's top of $0.6733 has returned risks to the downside and January's trough of $0.6532.

Hobbling the Aussie has been the dogged dovishness of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), with minutes of its latest meeting confirming it was in no rush to raise rates.

Gareth Aird, CBA's head of Australian economics, argues the RBA is underestimating the inflationary pulse and has brought forward his prediction for a rate hike to June, from August.

"We are very comfortable with our expectation that Q1 underlying inflation data will be a lot stronger than the RBA's forecast," said Aird. "Input costs have risen very swiftly and this is feeding through to faster growth in output prices."

He expects core inflation to jump 1.2% in the first quarter, taking the annual pace to 3.5%. That is well above the RBA's call that inflation will peak at 3.25% in the second quarter.

The consumer price report for the first quarter is due on April 27, a week before the RBA's May policy meeting.

"Our expectation is that the RBA will shift to an explicit hiking bias at the May Board meeting following a big upside surprise on underlying CPI," said Aird.

Markets have long wagered the RBA will have to act sooner rather than later and have a first rise to 0.25% priced in by June 0#YIB: and rates of 1.25% by year end.

That hawkish view has lifted 10-year bond yields AU10YT=RR to their highest since early 2019 at 2.22% and widened the spread over Treasuries to 21 basis points, offering some support for the Aussie.

The currency has also found some support from price rises for Australia's mix of commodities, from liquefied natural gas to coal and iron ore. These have generally outstripped gains in New Zealand's resource mix, which is concentrated in farm goods.

That trend helped the Aussie reach an eight-month high on the kiwi at NZ$1.0781 AUDNZD= , which is nearing major resistance around NZ$1.0810.
Editing by Sam Holmes


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