By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar crept higher on Wednesday as data on domestic inflation proved no softer than expected, leading investors to price out almost any chance of a cut in interest rates next week.
The Aussie AUD=D3 edged up to $0.6862 and away from a recent trough of $0.6810, but it faces tough resistance at its October top of $0.6883.
The New Zealand dollar NZD=D3 followed to $0.6360, just off a $0.6335 trough hit at the start of the week, and remains well short of this month's peak at $0.6436.
While official figures confirmed inflation remained subdued in Australia, there had been speculation it would be even weaker and so revive the risk of a short-term policy easing.
Instead, the outcome was much as forecast with consumer prices rising 1.7% in the year to September and a closely watched underlying measure up 1.6%.
Both are well below the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) long-term target band of 2-3%, a key reason it has already cut rates three times this year to a record low of 0.75%.
The lack of downside surprise in the latest quarter saw the futures market 0#YIB: pare back the chance of a cut at the RBA's Nov. 5 meeting to just 4% and a move in December to 30%.
Pricing for a February move has also been scaled back in recent days and now stands at 56%, and the market currently sees no chance of rates going under 0.5%.
"The headline inflation rate has bottomed, but it is creeping, rather than leaping, towards the target band," said Craig James, chief economist at CommSec.
"The language from policymakers suggest that they are very reluctant rate cutters from here. The RBA is expected to wait until at least February to decide if more stimulus is required."
The need for a move will be determined in part by what the Federal Reserve does with U.S. rates, since the RBA might be forced to act just to prevent an export-sapping increase in the Aussie dollar.
The Fed is widely expected to ease later on Wednesday, but investors are less certain if that will be the last one. Any signal the Fed is done, would lessen the need for another RBA move and would tend to push up local bond yields.
Yields on three-year paper AU3YT=RR have already drifted up to 0.80%, having hit an historic low of 0.60% early in the month, while 10-year bonds AU10YT=R paid 1.147%.
The three-year bond futures contract YTTc1 was 2 ticks firmer on the day at 99.210, while the 10-year contract YTCc1 rose 4 ticks to 95.8550.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
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