Aussie Falls, Bonds Rise After RBA Says Currency May Extend Drop
Comment of the Day

July 02 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Aussie Falls, Bonds Rise After RBA Says Currency May Extend Drop

This article by Mariko Ishikawa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section
Since the RBA unexpectedly cut rates to a record low on May 7, the Aussie has dropped about 10 percent. The slump also reflects slowing growth in China and comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who said May 22 the central bank could scale back stimulus efforts should the U.S. jobs market outlook show sustainable improvement.

“It is possible that the exchange rate will depreciate further over time, which would help to foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy,” Stevens said in the statement accompanying today's decision.

Twenty-five of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News expected Stevens and his policy board to hold borrowing costs unchanged. Interest-rate swaps data signal a 77 percent chance of a reduction by December.

The Australian dollar has weakened 11 percent in the past three months, the worst performer among the 10 developed-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes.

The kiwi has declined 5.2 percent in the same period, the second-biggest loser.

“The more that the Aussie dollar falls, the less likely that the RBA is going to go by cutting in the near term,” Joseph Capurso, a Sydney-based currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today before the central bank decision. “If the Aussie dollar were to lose another 10 percent on the trade- weighted index, that would actually make the RBA quite happy.”

Eoin Treacy's view The Australian Dollar more than doubled against the US Dollar in the decade between 2001 and 2011 as the economic fortunes of the two countries diverged. However, with the contraction in interest rate differentials, the US economy's return to a growth trajectory and the fall in value of Australia's commodity exports, the argument for persistent strength in the Australian Dollar has decreased.

From the perspective on an international investor, Australia's globally competitive yields are attractive but have recently been overshadowed by the weakness of the currency. Until some stability returns to the exchange rate the allure of the Australian stock market is likely to be less convincing than it has been over the last decade.

From the perspective of a local Australian investor, despite the Australian Dollar's recent deterioration, the currency is still close to its strongest level in decades. At The Chart Seminar in Sydney in 2011, the focus of delegate attention was on domestic Australian investments, not least because of the strength of the market on a currency-adjusted basis. The question now is whether an Australian would be better placed investing abroad or at home, considering the more volatile path the Aussie Dollar is likely to take over the next decade. Rather than a one size fits all, the answer is likely to be nuanced to one's priorities.

A process of mean reversion has been underway in the Australian stock market for the last two months. A significant number of instruments have returned to test the region of the 200-day MA. I created this table of the constituents of the ASX 200, highlighting 1-year, 3-year and 5-year dividend growth rates. A number of shares stand out.

Both Brambles and Amcor qualify as Autonomies because of their dominance of the pallet and packaging sectors and their global reach. They have both continued to increase dividends over the last 1, 3 and 5 years and yield 3.2% and 3.7% respectively. As globally oriented businesses they should benefit from the devaluation of the Aussie Dollar. Brambles broke out of a 5-year base in January and remains in a consistent step sequence uptrend. Amcor broke out of a decades-long base in January and also continues to extend its advance.

The banking sector is also particularly noteworthy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (7.48%), Westpac Banking Corp (9.05%), ANZ (7.62%) and NAB (8.93%) have all pulled back to areas of prior support and/or their respective trend means. They have all firmed this week.

In the retail sector, Woolworths (5.8%) found support last week in the region of the 200-day MA and a sustained move below it would be required to question recovery potential. Wesfarmers (6.19%) and Super Retail (4.22%) have similar patterns.

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