The Australian and New Zealand dollars advanced on Friday morning in Asia on renewed risk sentiment as upbeat jobs data from the U.S. overshadowed European commission's recession warning.
The U.S. Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted level of new claims for unemployment came in at 351,000 for the week ended February 18, essentially unchanged from the previous week's revised figure of 351,000.
While most economists had forecast an uptick in the low level of new jobless claims, predicting a level of 355,000, the claims reached its lowest mark since March 2008.
The European Commission said the euro zone will return to modest growth late in the year, but not before a recession that could last into the second quarter.
"Although growth has stalled, we are seeing signs of stabilization in the European economy," Commission Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said.
Majority of Asia-pacific equities are trading in positive territory, braced by encouraging jobs data from the US.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.27 percent, South Korea's Kospi Composite rose 0.31 percent, Australia's All ordinaries index rose 0.23 percent and China's Shanghai composite advanced 0.25 percent. NZ shares are trading marginally lower today.
The Australian dollar advanced to a 3-day high of 1.0757 against the US dollar, up almost 40 pips from Thursday's close of 1.0719. The aussie-greenback pair is presently worth 1.0740 with 1.08 seen as the next likely resistance level.
The aussie also climbed to a 4-day high of 86.17 against the yen in early Friday Asian deals, up by almost 0.5 percent from Thursday's close of 85.76. On the upside, 86.40 is seen as the next likely resistance level for the Australian currency.
Against the euro, the Australian currency rose as high as 1.2443 and the pair stabilized around the 1.2450 level in early Asian trading. If the aussie strengthens further, it may find target around the 1.2415 level.
Extending yesterday's rally, the Australian dollar rose to a 4-day high of 1.0726 against the Canadian dollar and this was up from 1.0693 hit late New York Thursday. The next upside target for the aussie-loonie pair is seen around the 1.0740 level.
The New Zealand dollar continued to creep higher against the yen, hitting a 4-day high of 67.23 and this was up from 66.93 hit late New York Thursday. If the pair extends its rally, it may break the 67.35 resistance level and a move beyond that would take the pair to its peak since August 4, 2011.
The kiwi rose to a 3-day high of 0.8390 against its US rival, up from 0.8365 hit late New York Thursday. On the upside, the kiwi-buck pair may find target around the 0.84 level.
The New Zealand dollar moved mostly sideways against the Australian dollar after having touched a 2-day high of 1.2814 in early Asian trading on Friday. Against the euro, the kiwi climbed to 1.5954 and leveled off. If the NZ dollar strengthens further, likely resistance levels are seen at 1.5930 against the euro and 1.2770 versus the aussie.
Looking ahead, Germany's final fourth quarter GDP report is expected in the European session.
From the U.S., the University of Michigan's consumer confidence survey results for February and New Home sales for January are due out in the New York session.
by RTT Staff Writer
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