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$A down on quiet day ahead of Chinese PMI

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SYDNEY, Jan 24 AAP

January 24 2013, 12:20AM

The Australian dollar is lower on a quiet trading day, as the market awaits manufacturing data from China.

At 1200 AEDT on Thursday, the Australian dollar was trading at 105.18 US cents, down from Wednesday's close of 105.55 US cents.

Since 0700 AEDT, it has traded between 105.16 and 105.55 US cents.

IG Markets institutional trader Chris Weston said the local currency had little impetus to move, despite the release of consumer price index (CPI) data released on Wednesday.

"It seems like it's in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment - there's no major catalyst for movement," he said.

"I think the CPI number yesterday was interesting, but I wouldn't read into it too much.

"It means that inflation is no longer a hurdle for the Reserve Bank (of Australia) in deciding to cut rates - it now comes down to data dependency, based on employment numbers, terms-of-trade and capex data."

Consumer prices rose 0.2 per cent in the December quarter, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

This was below economists' expectations of a 0.5 per cent rise, and gives the RBA more scope to cut the cash rate when it meets on February 5.

Mr Weston said HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI) data - a key reading of Chinese manufacturing activity - would be the next focal point for markets.

The PMI numbers for January come out on Thursday afternoon, and are expected to show a positive reading, after a rise to 51.5 in the December data.

Meanwhile, Australian bond futures prices were stronger at noon.

At 1200 on Thursday, the March 10-year bond futures contract was trading at 96.755 (implying a yield of 3.245 per cent), up from Wednesday's close of 96.730 (3.270 per cent).

The March three-year bond futures contract was at 97.310 (implying a yield of 2.690 per cent), up from 97.280 (2.720 per cent).