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Dollar may gain against the Australian on jobless data

By Paul McBeth

Thursday 11th December 2008

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The New Zealand dollar may gain against the Australian dollar on concern figures today will show the economy of New Zealand's biggest export market is shedding jobs as the global economic slump spreads across Asia Pacific.

Australian jobless data will be released today, and a Reuters survey of economists predicts the country shed 15,000 jobs in November as the unemployment rate rose to 4.5% from 4.3%. With demand for metals drying up, Rio Tinto Group, the world's third largest mining company, will lay off 14,000 people as it looks to cut spending by more than half. Figures yesterday showed China's November imports plummeted 17.9% and exports declined 2.2%, the first drop in seven years.

Weak employment figures from Australia "could see the kiwi stronger" against its counterpart across the Tasman, said Tim Kelleher, corporate risk manager at ASB Bank. "I don't see how the Australian numbers will be good."

The New Zealand fell to 54.22 US cents from 54.38 cents yesterday, and was down to 50.13 yen from 50.33. The kiwi was down to 82.51 Australian cents from 82.64 cents yesterday.

Kelleher said the kiwi may go as high as 85 Australian cents should the employment data be as weak as feared. The currency may trade between 53.92 US cents and 55 cents today.

Earlier this week, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens told an audience of economists that the Chinese economy had "slowed much more quickly than anyone had forecast."

US stock markets, which have been a strong indicator of where the kiwi will move, were mixed as investors awaited the conclusion of government negotiations over the US$15 billion rescue package for the automaker industry.

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