Australian dollar higher as markets cheer vaccine rollouts

SYDNEY, Feb 15 (Reuters) – The Australian and New Zealand dollars started the week higher against the greenback on Monday, benefiting from buoyant equity and commodity markets ahead of both countries’ planned coronavirus vaccine rollouts.

The Aussie dollar rose 0.23 to $0.7777, well up from this month’s troughs of $0.7564 and $0.7583. It is facing resistance around $0.7785.

The kiwi dollar was also 0.33% higher at $0.7239, having enjoyed a solid bounce from last month’s low of $0.7097. Resistance lies around $0.7246 and $0.7251.

Both risk-linked currencies have benefited from higher commodity prices and their economies performance following their success in controlling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Questions over the economic recovery in the United States, meanwhile, was putting pressure on the greenback, analysts said.

Australia will begin inoculating against COVID-19 next week after receiving the first 142,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while in New Zealand, vaccinations are planned to start Feb. 20.

Positive risk appetite would likely continue to push the Australian dollar higher against its more defensive counterparts, with the performance of equities a key driver, Australian and New Zealand Banking Group analysts said.

Shares were advancing to record highs in some Asian markets while oil rose to a more than one year peak as successful coronavirus vaccine rollouts raise hopes of a rapid economic recovery.

Australian equities were close to 1% higher as positive domestic corporate earnings boosted investor sentiment, while a number of financial centres in Asia remained closed on Monday for Lunar New Year.

Looking ahead, traders expect positive January labour data on Thursday driving an improvement in Australia’s unemployment rate to 6.5%, from 6.6%.

Australian three-year bond yields at 0.12% remain pinned near the RBA’s target of 0.10%, while Australian 10-year bond yields edged up to 1.30%, the highest since March.

New Zealand yields on 10-year paper edged up to 1.393%, but were still off the nine-month high of 1.455% touched last week.

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