The Australian dollar is under pressure as trade war fears flare again

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  • The Australian dollar fell against most major crosses on Tuesday.
  • China will release major economic data midway through today’s trading session.
  • Highlights later today include US retail sales and a speech from ECB president Mario Draghi.

The Australian dollar came under pressure on Tuesday, losing ground against all major crosses except the Canadian dollar.

Here’s the scoreboard at 7.40am AEDT.

AUD/USD 0.7856 , -0.0016 , -0.20%
AUD/JPY 83.7 , -0.06 , -0.07%
AUD/CNH 4.9677 , -0.0102 , -0.20%
AUD/EUR 0.6340 , -0.0041 , -0.64%
AUD/GBP 0.5625 , -0.0035 , -0.62%
AUD/NZD 1.0723 , -0.0064 , -0.59%
AUD/CAD 1.0191 , 0.0087 , 0.86%

After range trading throughout Asia and European trade, the AUD/USD initially popped higher following the release of a subdued US CPI report for February, hitting a session high of .7897.

However, news that US President Donald Trump had replaced Rex Tillerson as US secretary of state, coming hot on the heels of Gary Cohn’s resignation as Trump’s chief economic adviser last week, saw investor sentiment turn negative, an outcome that weighed on the Aussie.

Reports that Trump asked US trade representative Robert Lighthizer to prepare large-scale tariffs and trade restrictions against China during a meeting last week further compounded selling in the Aussie, eventually seeing it slide to as low as .7847 against the dollar.

“After the resignation of Chief Economic adviser Gary Cohn, Tillerson’s sacking reinforces the view that Trump has a ‘my way or the highway’ agenda,” said Rodrigo Catril, currency strategist at the National Australia Bank.

“The President seemingly wants to take a hard line on trade and foreign policy.”

AUD/USD Hourly Chart

The Aussie suffered even larger declines against most of the major crosses, lagging the move seen elsewhere in response to the soft US inflation print.

The Canadian dollar was the one exception, weighed down by falling crude prices and a dovish speech delivered by Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz during the session.

Turning to the day ahead, speculation and headlines surrounding trade tensions between the US and China look set to dominate despite the release of major economic data during the session.

The headline act in Asia comes from China with the release of industrial output, urban fixed asset investment and retail sales figures for February at 1pm AEDT.

Although all major releases, markets have tended to overlook these data points in recent years as the Chinese economy has improved.

Elsewhere, New Zealand current account figures for the December quarter of 2017 will be released along with the minutes of the Bank of Japan’s January monetary policy meeting.

In Australia, Westpac will release its consumer sentiment report for March at 10.30am AEDT while Christopher Kent, RBA assistant governor, will also speak from 9.10am AEDT.

Later in the session, highlights include eurozone employment and industrial production figures, speeches from several ECB members including president Mario Draghi, along with retail sales, producer price inflation and weekly EIA crude oil inventory data from the United States.