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$A down on weak US GDP

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AAP

2013-01-31

The Australian dollar has pared back after official data suggested that growth in the US has slowed.

At 1700 AEDT on Thursday, the Australian dollar was trading at 104.06 US cents, down from 104.73 US cents on Wednesday.

Since 0700 AEDT, the local currency has traded between 103.81 US cents and 104.30 cents.

OzForex head of corporate dealing Jim Vrondas said the weak US gross domestic product (GDP) data had prompted a fall in the Australian currency.

"We saw the discussion resurface about whether the US economy was entering another recession, or heading that way again," he said.

"That didn't help the Aussie much."

Official data released in the US overnight showed the economy contracted 0.1 per cent in the December quarter.

Mr Vrondas said US data would continue to influence Australian bonds, with non-farm payrolls data due on Friday night (AEDT).

After that, he added, the focus would return to local events, with the Reserve Bank of Australia meeting on February 5 for its cash rate decision.

At its last meeting on December 4, the bank lowered the cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point, to three per cent.

At 1700 AEDT, the Australian dollar was trading at 94.64 Japanese yen, down from 95.25 yen on Tuesday and was at 76.62 euro cents, down from 77.65 euro cents.

Meanwhile, Australian bond futures prices were higher after the US data.

At 1630 on Thursday, the March 10-year bond futures contract was trading at 96.570 (implying a yield of 3.430 per cent), up from Wednesday's local close of 96.520 (3.480 per cent).

The March three-year bond futures contract was at 97.190 (2.810 per cent), up from 97.130 (2.870 per cent).

UBS interest rate strategist Matthew Johnson said the growth data, plus commentary from the US Federal Open market Committee, had lifted Australian bond prices.

"The overnight US GDP report was a bit of an antidote to the positivity which has built up over the last quarter or so," he said.

"We also had the Fed downgrading its economic assessment to reflect that weakness - it shows that they are a long way from changing their (bond-buying) policy."

At its meeting following the GDP release, the FOMC said it appeared that economic growth had slowed in recent months.

They had previously said the economy was expanding at a moderate pace.

Caroline Smith