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$A lower following Fed minutes

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AAP

2013-02-21

The Australian dollar is more than one US cent lower after speculation the US Federal Reserve could wind back its stimulus program earlier than expected caused a slide in global share markets.

At 1700 AEDT on Thursday, the currency was trading at 102.35 US cents, down from 103.65 cents on Wednesday.

Forex.com research analyst Chris Tedder said risk assets like the Australian dollar moved lower on Wednesday night and on Thursday, following the release of the minutes from the January meeting of the US Federal Reserve's Federal Open Markets Committee.

The Fed minutes, released during the overnight session, showed that some members expressed concern over its economic stimulus program called quantitative easing (QE).

They were worried that, with an improving US labour market, QE could eventually escalate inflation and unsettle financial markets.

Mr Tedder said an end to the stimulus measures would hurt risk assets globally.

"If the Fed does stop easing that will have a negative effect on risk assets in general so that's why we saw the big sell off in commodity currencies and flowed into equities as well," he said.

"So that's why we saw more than $30 billion wiped of the Australian stock exchange today," he said.

Mr Tedder said the key drivers for the Australian dollar overnight on Thursday would be the release of US home sales, manufacturing and unemployment claims data for January.

At 1700 AEDT, the Australian dollar was trading at 95.63 Japanese yen, down from 96.63 yen on Wednesday and at 77.30 euro cents, up slightly from 77.28 euro cents.

Meanwhile, Australian bond futures finished the local session stronger.

At 1630 AEDT on Thursday, the March 10-year bond futures contract was trading at 96.485 (implying a yield of 3.515 per cent), up from 96.440 (3.560 per cent) on Wednesday.

The March three-year bond futures contract was at 97.130 (2.870 per cent), up from 97.090 (2.910 per cent).

Nomura head of fixed income Jon Linton said the bond market was reacting to weakness in share markets, rather than the Fed minutes.

"We're following equities basically, equities struggled everywhere overnight and that's flowed through to the Asian session," he said.

Evan Schwarten