July 16, 2018 / 3:32 AM / in a year

Australia, NZ dollars dip on China slowdown worries

SYDNEY, July 16 (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars eased slightly on Monday on news China had posted weaker-than-expected industrial production for June, raising fears of a slowdown there.

China is the biggest export destination for both Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian dollar, often played as a liquid proxy for the Chinese yuan, slipped 0.2 percent to $0.7410 after two consecutive sessions of gains. The Aussie has, however, been surprisingly resilient to ongoing Sino-U.S. trade tensions, remaining steady last week.

Monday’s data showed China’s economy grew 6.7 percent in the second quarter of 2018, in line with market expectations, and cooling a bit from the 6.8 percent growth registered in each of the previous three quarters.

Taken with a decline in industrial output, the figures point to an economy continuing to slow under the influence of a multi-year crackdown on excessive financial risk, now compounded by the gathering headwinds of a trade war.

Australia’s open export-dependent economy is heavily exposed to China’s fortunes so a slowdown there is bad news for the Aussie which is also traded as a liquid hedge against risk.

“We see that although the trade tariffs were not yet in force in June, if you look at the industrial production data, the figures are not really good,” said Iris Pang, Greater China Economist at ING in Hong Kong.

“The June data is already a reflection of how exporters of affected businesses are reacting,” said Pang, adding the bank is

revising downwards its GDP forecast for the next two quarters to 6.6 and 6.5 percent respectively from 6.7 percent.

The New Zealand dollar dipped 0.1 percent to $0.6760 for a second straight day of losses. The kiwi stumbled more than 1 percent last week.

“The NZD continues to struggle with the patchy domestic scene and global trade uncertainties taking their toll,” ANZ economists said in a note. “Tomorrow’s local CPI (consumer price index) figures will be key to determine whether that will continue in the near-term.”

Figures due on Tuesday are expected to show second-quarter inflation likely picked up to 1.6 percent from 1.1 percent the previous quarter, which could provide the kiwi with some support.

Nevertheless, economists warned that temporary factors were boosting headline figures and the central bank was likely to take a cautious approach, keeping rates on hold as it waited for underlying inflationary pressure to build up.

New Zealand government bonds gained, sending yields 2.2 basis points lower towards the long end of the curve.

Australian government bond futures were flat, with the three-year bond contract unchanged at 97.930. The 10-year contract stood at 97.365. (Reporting by Swati Pandey Editing by Eric Meijer)

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