Australian dollar hits parity vs US dollar

NEW YORK, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar rose above the $1 parity level to the U.S. dollar on Friday for the first time since becoming a freely traded currency, extending a bull run that appears well-entrenched due to Australia’s higher rates and robust resource-driven growth.

Remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday reinforcing market expectations for another round of quantitative easing helped give the Australian dollar AUD=D4 a push to $1.0004, finally taking out the round psychological level that analysts and market players have been eyeing for months.

Charts suggest the Aussie could rise as high as $1.0236 in coming weeks, the 161.8 percent Fibonacci projection level of the currency’s fall between November 2009 and May 2010.

The Aussie dollar has been the strongest major currency since Australia skirted through the global financial crisis without falling into recession. In fact, its economy picked up steam, and the currency has surged 66 percent since touching a low of $0.6007 in October 2008.

Unlike other countries griping about excessive currency strength against a sliding dollar, Australia’s central bank has considered a stronger currency a natural outcome of the country’s booming resources trade and a tool for fighting inflation. (Reporting by Reuters bureaux worldwide; Editing by Theodore d’Afflisio)