Aussie dlr dented by shrinking trade surplus, NZ$ steady


By Swati Pandey and Charlotte Greenfield

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar slipped to more than two-week lows on Thursday after data showed the country's trade surplus slumped in October on weaker iron ore prices, while its New Zealand cousin remained within recent ranges.

The Australian dollar fell 0.3 percent to as low as $0.7542 after data showed the trade surplus shrank to A$105 million ($105.00 million), down from A$1.6 billion in September and expectations of A$1.4 billion.

Iron ore is Australia's top export earner so Thursday's data points to a disappointing start for the final quarter of 2017, particularly after exports made zero contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) last quarter.

Still, exports likely bounced back in November following a recent surge in iron ore prices. The most-traded Dalian iron ore contract jumped 16.5 percent last month alone.

Economists were still uncertain about whether volumes would pick up as an industrial pollution crackdown in China, which has dented demand and prices, remains in place.

"Overall, it's possible that the total trade surplus will turn into a deficit in the coming months, at least for a short while," said Paul Dales, chief economist at Capital Economics.

"And while it is early days yet...net exports may be a small drag on GDP growth in the fourth quarter."

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand dollar was steady at $0.6879. It has been trapped in a narrow range of $0.6830 to $0.6913 since the end of November.

The currency came off a one-week high of $0.6916 set on Wednesday, in part after dairy giant Fonterra slashed its farmgate milk payout as global prices fell.

Dairy is New Zealand's biggest export.

New Zealand government bonds eased, sending yields 2.5 basis points higher at the long end of the curve.

Australian government bond futures were mixed, with the three-year bond contract up 1 ticks at 98.050. The 10-year contract slipped 1.5 ticks to 97.4600.

($1 = $1.0000)

This article appears in: Politics , Stocks , World Markets , Economy

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