* Aussie supported by upbeat China trade data
* RBNZ confirms has intervened to lower NZ dollar
* No details given on when intervention took place
By Masayuki Kitano
SINGAPORE, May 8 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar pulled up from a two-month low and the yen eased briefly on Wednesday, after better-than-expected Chinese trade numbers eased some concern about slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
A big underperformer was the New Zealand dollar, which took a hit after the head of the country’s central bank said it had intervened to try and restrain the strength of the currency. No details were given on when such action took place.
Data showing that China’s exports and imports grew more than expected in April from a year earlier helped support the Australian dollar and weighed on the yen, although doubts remained about the strength of real demand.
The Aussie dollar is sensitive to economic data out of China, Australia’s biggest export destination.
The Australian dollar last fetched $1.0187, steady on the day.
Still, that was up from a two-month low of $1.0155 set this week after the Reserve Bank of Australia reduced the cash rate by a quarter point to a record low 2.75 percent on Tuesday, and left the door open to more easing.
Against the yen, the Aussie dollar held steady at 100.80 yen , up from an intraday low of about 100.36 yen.
“The Australian dollar bounced a bit, as the bias had been completely toward the downside and there had been some accumulation of (short) positions,” said Hiroshi Maeba, head of FX trading Japan for UBS in Tokyo, referring to the Aussie dollar’s reaction to the Chinese trade data.
That helped lend support to cross/yen pairs and the U.S. dollar versus the yen as well, Maeba said.
There has also been some dollar buying by Japanese importers and traders taking fresh long positions in the greenback, but the dollar could also start to see some options-related offers on the top side, Maeba added.
The U.S. dollar was steady at 98.97 yen, having rebounded from an intraday low near 98.64 yen.
The greenback, which hit a four-year high of 99.95 yen in April after the Bank of Japan unveiled its drastic monetary stimulus, has met stiff resistance near the psychologically key 100 yen level.
The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.3093, with the near-term focus on German industrial production data coming up later in the day.
The New Zealand dollar fell 0.8 percent to $0.8389.
The kiwi dollar fell after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it had been selling the currency to limit its strength.
“There has been intervention,” RBNZ Governor Graeme Wheeler told a parliamentary committee. No details were given on the timing of the currency market operations.
The RBNZ’s latest balance sheet, which covers transactions through March, shows scant selling of New Zealand dollars from the bank’s reserves during the first three months of the year, after it sold a net NZ$199 million in December.
The figures do not cover transactions in April, when the New Zealand dollar rose to a 20-month high of $0.8676.
Hamish Pepper, currency strategist for Barclays in Singapore, said any impact from RBNZ intervention or talk of such action is likely to be short-lived, especially when considering the outlook for monetary policy.
“They’re approaching the beginning of a tightening cycle. Admittedly, we don’t think it will actually start this year, we think it’s more a story for 2014,” Pepper said.
“To the extent that you’re trying to lean against your currency at the same time you’re approaching a tightening cycle, there’s an inconsistency there,” he said.
Pepper said the RBNZ was unlikely to conduct large-scale intervention. Even when they intervened on a large scale back in 2007, the impact had proved short-lived, he added.
A more crucial factor for the kiwi dollar is a likely improvement later this year in the U.S. economy, which may support U.S. yields and the U.S. dollar, Pepper said, adding that the kiwi dollar could fall to about $0.82 in the near-term.