The Aussie dollar's not doing very much, but it won't remain that way for long

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesNot long now to the Fed.
  • The Australian dollar had a sleepy session on Tuesday, moving sideways against most of the major crosses with the exception of the British pound.
  • The lack of movement reflects caution ahead of the US Fed’s interest rate decision at 4am AEST on Thursday.
  • Before that event arrives, all the data highlights in Asia on Wednesday will come from New Zealand. With trading volumes thin and speculative positioning in the Kiwi quite short, it could be wild session for the NZD.

The Australian dollar — like most other major currencies — did very little on Tuesday, operating in a narrow trading band throughout the entire session.

The lack of movement largely reflects caution ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s September interest rate decision that will arrive within the next 24 hours.

Here’s the scoreboard as at 7am in Sydney.

AUD/USD 0.7249 , -0.0003 , -0.04%
AUD/JPY 81.89 , 0.09 , 0.11%
AUD/CNH 4.9780 , -0.0026 , -0.05%
AUD/EUR 0.6161 , -0.0011 , -0.18%
AUD/GBP 0.5498 , -0.0028 , -0.51%
AUD/NZD 1.0899 , -0.001 , -0.09%
AUD/CAD 0.9387 , -0.0006 , -0.06%

With the exception of the British pound, the Aussie did very little against the crosses as traders pulled back to the sidelines ahead of the Fed decision.

Ray Attrill, Head of FX Strategy at the National Australia Bank, put Stirling’s outperformance down to a number of different factors.

“This was on combination of comments from German chancellor Merkel that a Brexit deal is still possible in October or November, the UK Labour Party conference and the possibility of 2nd referendum being endorsed as party policy… and [hawkish] comments from the Bank of England’s Vlieghe,” he said.

That saw the AUD/GBP shed around 0.5% for the session.

However, against the greenback, the Aussie did very little, trading in a minuscule 30 pip trading range before closing almost unchanged for the session. This was despite more strong US economic data — this time consumer confidence hitting the highest level in 18 years.

Investing.comAUD/USD Hourly Chart

While the actual Fed interest rate decision won’t arrive until 4am AEST on Thursday morning, it will almost certainly dictate trade throughout the Asian and European sessions.

Given a 25 basis point increase in the funds rate to 2 to 2.25% is deemed a near given, it will be the wording of the post-meeting policy statement, updates to the Fed’s economic and year-end interest rate forecasts (the dots) and Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference that will dictate what direction markets will travel in the immediate aftermath of the release.

FX Strategists at Macquarie Bank believe there’s one word in the statement that could actually determine how the US dollar fares in the months ahead.

Before the Fed decision arrives, the main highlights in Asia will be the release of trade and business confidence figures in New Zealand, two data points that have moved the Kiwi dollar substantially in the past.

In particular, after falling to a decade-low in August, there’s likely to be plenty of attention on the NBNZ business survey released at 11am AEST. The trade data will hit at 8.45am AEST.

Elsewhere, CBI retail sales from the UK, along with new home sales and crude oil inventory data from the EIA in the US, are the only other releases of note.

As a reminder, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will also announce its September interest rate decision at 7am AEST on Thursday morning.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.