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Australia, NZ Dollars Weaker on Soft U.S. Data

SYDNEY, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars were slightly lower on Monday, as a softening U.S. economic outlook turned investors cautious even as data showed China’s economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the fourth quarter of last year.

The Aussie eased off 14 basis points to be at $0.7694 at midday, recovering from a one-week low of $0.7679 earlier in the session. The risk-sensitive currency ended last week 0.83% lower.

The kiwi dollar was unchanged at $0.7128, down 0.72% since the beginning of the month.

Trading was subdued ahead of a U.S. holiday on Monday while weak U.S. data on Friday and a rising virus toll worldwide had cast doubts on global growth prospects, analysts said.

“Optimism is being challenged as the reality of a tough few months is upon us,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group analysts wrote in a note to clients. “The near-term outlook for consumption, the main driver of economic growth, is poor.”

The world’s second-largest economy on Monday showed it picked up speed in the fourth quarter, with growth beating expectations and remained poised to expand further this year even as the global pandemic raged unabated.

That followed global selloff of shares on Friday as hopes of a fiscal boost from a $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus plan were smothered by the prospect of stricter lockdowns in France and Germany and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in China.

“The AUD has been driven by the equity market sell-off in the U.S. on Friday. In particular, the losses in crude oil and copper,” Steven Dooley, APAC currency strategist at Western Union Business Solutions said.

New Zealand government bonds were slightly lower, sending yields half a basis points lower across the curve.

Australian government bond futures were mostly unchanged.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

Source: Reuters

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