The Australian dollar is sliding

Michael Hurcomb/Corbis via Getty Images
  • The Australian dollar fell heavily on Tuesday following the RBA’s April interest rate decision.
  • There was next to no reaction from the release of Australia’s federal budget.
  • It’s a busy data calednar in Australia today, headlined by February retail sales.

The Australian dollar fell heavily on Tuesday, losing ground against all major crosses except the New Zealand dollar during the session.

Here’s the scoreboard at 8am in Sydney on Wednesday.

AUD/USD 0.7071 , -0.004 , -0.56%
AUD/JPY 78.71 , -0.46 , -0.58%
AUD/CNH 4.7543 , -0.0229 , -0.48%
AUD/EUR 0.6309 , -0.0032 , -0.50%
AUD/GBP 0.5382 , -0.0045 , -0.83%
AUD/NZD 1.0462 , 0.0017 , 0.16%
AUD/CAD 0.9429 , -0.0036 , -0.38%

As seen in the 30-minute AUD/USD chart below, the bulk of the Aussie’s fall occurred immediately after the release of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) April interest rate decision that arrived midway through the Asian session.

While the RBA kept the cash rate unchanged at 1.5% and maintained a neutral policy bias, implying there’s unlikely to be near-term change in interest rates, the board tweaked its commentary in the final paragraph of the statement for the first time in several years. To many, this seemingly innocuous change was significant, hinting the RBA may be far closer to easing policy settings further than many previously thought.

“The RBA made a very subtle change to the final paragraph of its statement that could be interpreted as a dovish tilt,” said Joseph Capurso, Senior Currency Strategist at the Commonwealth Bank.

“[The board said it] will ‘continue to monitor developments and set monetary policy to support sustainable growth in the economy’. The word ‘set’ could be interpreted as the RBA considering a policy setting change if the Australian and global economic data and risks to the outlook deteriorates.

“In previous months the board had indicated that ‘holding the stance of monetary policy unchanged’ is ‘consistent with sustainable growth in the economy’.

The Aussie dollar sank in response, hitting a session low of .7053 before rebounding into the close.

As is usually the case, there was next to no reaction in financial markets to the release of Australia’s federal budget, suggesting few saw the details of meaningfully shifting the outlook for the economy nor RBA interest rate settings.

Against the major crosses, the Aussie lost ground against the British pound with the latter finding support from another request to delay Brexit.

“The pound after news that Theresa May would seek cross party support to break the impasse in the Brexit process,” Capurso said. “May said she will seek a further extension of Article 50 and a deal to leave the EU. This puts off a ‘hard Brexit’ on 12 April.”

Elsewhere, the Aussie managed to eke higher against the New Zealand dollar which was weighed down by another weak business confidence reading, bolstering the view that the RBNZ will act upon its newly-implemented easing bias and cut its cash rate again. The latest fortnightly dairy auction also underwhelmed, placing further downside pressure on the Kiwi.

Turning to the day ahead, it will be another big day of data with several major releases scheduled both at home and abroad.

Locally, the Ai Group’s Performance of Services Index for March will be released at 8.30am AEDT. That will be followed by the double-whammy of retail sales and international trade data for February at 11.30am AEDT.

Retail is expected to lift by 0.3% following a 0.1% gain in January. The trade surplus is tipped to narrow to $3.7 billion, down from $4.55 billion a month earlier.

Both reports carry the potential to generate short-term volatility in the Aussie dollar.

Outside of Australia, the main highlights on Wednesday will be the release of services PMIs from China, Eurozone, UK and US. Aside from those reports, Eurozone retail sales and ADP private sector payrolls from the US are the other headline acts.

On the Fed front, Bostic and Kashkari are set to be in action.

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