Australian, NZ dlrs trampled in global risk rout, high inflation no help - REUTERS
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars were on the defensive on Tuesday as world stock markets extended their slide and geopolitical tensions darkened the mood further, even outweighing a big upside surprise on domestic inflation.
The Aussie was struggling at $0.7145 , having slid to a two-month trough of $0.7090 overnight. The inflation figures provoked a blip to $0.7178, but that proved all too brief and the focus was on support around $0.7083.
The kiwi dollar stood at $0.6684 , having hit its lowest since late 2020 at $0.6661 overnight. The next bear target is around $0.6590.
Both currencies are leveraged to global growth and commodity prices and tend to get sold when markets turn bearish.
Those concerns overshadowed data showing core inflation jumped to an annual 2.6% in the December quarter, blowing away forecasts of 2.3% and above the middle of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) 2-3% target band. read more
The shock report only encouraged market wagers on an early rise in interest rates, with futures now almost fully priced for a move to 0.25% in May.
The market now has four more hikes priced in for this year, taking rates to 1.25% by December, more even than for the U.S. Federal Reserve where inflation is twice the Australian level.
Investors also dumped shorter-dated bonds with three-year futures sliding 9 ticks to 98.500, implying an yield of 1.5%.
The RBA holds a policy meeting on Feb. 1 and is still thought likely to hold rates at 0.1%. However, it will have to revise up its inflation forecasts and could well end its bond buying campaign rather than extend it to May.
It will also be harder, though not impossible, for policy makers to argue that a rate rise is unlikely until 2023.
"It is clear that inflation has entered a new period of being sustainably higher, after an eight-year period of undershooting the RBA's target band," said Diana Mousina, a senior economist at AMP.
"We see the first rate hike starting in August, with a follow-up rate hike in September and a pause for the rest of the year before another lift in early 2023."
In any case, it is not clear rate rises would reverse the Aussie's recent decline. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has already lifted rates twice and is considered certain to move again in February, yet the kiwi has still shed five cents since peaking in October.