Australian Dollar Slips Despite Construction Sector Gains
- Expansion in the Australian construction market crowned a month of broadly expanding PMI equivalents
- The Australian Dollar remained under pressure however
- Rate differentials and commodity price weakness continue to weigh
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The Australian Dollar continued to slide through Friday’s Asia/Pacific session despite some news of domestic housing-market health.
April’s Performance of Construction Index from the Australian Industry Group came in at 51.9. The index is exactly analogous to the better-known Purchasing Managers Indexes form. So, any reading over 50 signifies expansion.
April brought further gains for the sector following the 51.2 registered in March. AIG noted a marked recovery in apartment building, more modest rise in house construction but no end to commercial building’s malaise. It also said there was a generally positive assessment of business conditions, however.
The data follow Thursday’s news of a 1.1% monthly March fall in home sales from the Housing Industry Association. This series has been sliding gradually from 2016’s record peaks, but the AIG survey is more recent and suggests there could be scope for a pickup.
The Australian Dollar remains under a bit of pressure against its US cousin nevertheless. The prospect of higher US interest rates while Australia’s stay put is one problem for bulls. Sliding commodity prices and lingering worries about a more protectionist White House are doing the rest. Friday’s housing data didn’t obviously add to that pressure but AUD/USD slipped to the 0.7400 mark in the Asian morning, from an early peak of 0.74155.
Still sliding: AUD/USD
Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe used a speech on Thursday to warn that Australia’s record levels of household debt and the associated property boom had created the risk that rising interest rates could put a serious brake on consumer spending. They would oblige consumers to allocate more resource to debt servicing.
That said he cautioned that current, record-low Australian interest rates couldn’t last forever, even though a rise was not imminent. As this chimed with the markets’ overwhelming take before he spoke, there was little for the Australian Dollar in his comments.
However, all three Australian PMI equivalents for April, manufacturing, services and construction have shown reasonable health.
--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research
Contact and follow David on Twitter: @DavidCottleFX
DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.