Australia dlr dented as jobs data drive yields to historic lows
By Wayne Cole and Tom Westbrook
SYDNEY, June 13 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar slipped to a two-week trough on Thursday as a mixed set of local jobs data were taken as a green light for a rate cut as soon as July, driving bond yields to historic lows.
The Aussie AUD=D3 eased 0.3% to $0.6908, taking it further away from last week's top of $0.7025 and perilously close to chart support at $0.6898. It lost a little more to the safe-haven yen, hitting a five-month low of 74.73 yen JPY=.
The drop would have been sharper but markets have already priced in an awful lot of policy easing by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) following its cut to 1.25% earlier this month.
Investors pushed yields on three-year bonds AU3YT=RR under the psychological 1% level for the time ever, to reach a fresh trough of 0.991%.
"The market is priced for sub 1% cash rates, so effectively that's what's driving this," said Su-Lin Ong, head of Australian fixed income strategy at RBC Capital Markets. "And I think the market is questioning how far below we are going."
Futures 0#YIB: jumped to price in a 72% chance of another rate cut in July, up from 52% early in the day. They also imply a move to 0.75% by December is virtually a done deal.
The trigger came when the May labour report showed unemployment stayed at 5.2% when analysts had hoped for a dip back to 5.1%.
While new hiring surged by a surprisingly strong 42,300 the workforce expanded by nearly as much, keeping the jobless rate stubbornly steady.
"While the RBA will welcome the strong pace of employment growth in May, today's data confirm that there is excess capacity in the labour market," said Ben Udy, the Australian economist for Capital Economics.
"That means that the unemployment rate would need to fall much further before inflationary pressures strengthen in earnest," he added. "We expect that to prompt the RBA to cut rates to 0.75% by the end of the year."
One redeeming factor for the Aussie was that most other major central banks are also under pressure to ease, with markets implying no less than an 85% probability of a July rate cut from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Indeed, the market is pricing in 100 basis points of Fed easing by the middle of next year, compared to another 50 basis points for the RBA.
Investors are also wagering heavily that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) will have to move again following its May easing, though it is not seen cutting as deep as the RBA RBNZWATCH.
That outlook helped the New Zealand dollar NZD=D3 hold steady at $0.6572, while firming a touch on its Australian counterpart AUDNZD=.
New Zealand bonds joined the Australian rally, with yields on two-year paper NZ2YT=RR matching record lows at 1.235%.
Futures for Australian three-year bonds YTTc1 firmed 2.5 ticks to 98.985, while the 10-year contract YTCc1 rose 1.75 ticks to 98.5775.
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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