RBA's optimism on inflation expected to buoy Aussie dollar

The dollar traded 0.3 per cent from a five-week high after central bank deputy governor Philip Lowe defended a higher exchange rate and savings level, saying they helped stabilise the economy.

The dollar traded 0.3 per cent from a five-week high after central bank deputy governor Philip Lowe defended a higher exchange rate and savings level, saying they helped stabilise the economy.

The Aussie rose against the yen after minutes of the Reserve Bank's March 5 meeting said there were signs the economy was responding to low interest rates. New Zealand's currency slid against most major peers after Finance Minister Bill English said the currency was overvalued and he expects interest rates to stay lower for longer.

"The deputy governor is sounding the victory bell on inflation in the mining boom," said Andrew Salter, a currency strategist at ANZ.

"We managed to come through the boom without an excessively high level of inflation. It's hard to see a long-term short position in the Australian dollar bearing any fruit," he said referring to bets that an asset will decline.

The Australian currency slid 0.2 per cent to US103.85¢, after touching US104.15¢ on March 15. That was its highest since February 5.

The Aussie added 0.2 per cent to ¥99.24. New Zealand's kiwi weakened 0.1 per cent to US82.56¢.

Dr Lowe said a stronger currency and higher savings rate have helped contain inflation and allowed lower interest rates even as the mining industry boomed.

"These factors have helped Australia to digest a huge investment boom without generating substantial imbalances in the economy," he said in Sydney.

"The market will certainly interpret the comments in a positive light," said ANZ's Mr Salter.

"They will encourage the market to continue pricing in a normalisation of policy in Australia." ANZ expects the RBA to hold benchmark borrowing costs unchanged in April.

Interest-rate swaps data indicate a mere 13 per cent chance the RBA will cut the benchmark rate at the next meeting on April 2.

Australian bonds retreated as US stock futures and Asian shares rallied.

The three-year bond yield rose 8 basis points, or 0.08 percentage points, to 3.02 per cent from Monday, when it dropped 17 basis points.

The 10-year rate climbed eight basis points to 3.56 per cent.

Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures rose 0.1 per cent, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.6 per cent.

Australia's bond market is benefiting from strong international demand for assets in the nation's currency, RBA assistant governor Guy Debelle said.

The Aussie has gained 2.3 per cent in the past six months, according to Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes. Its New Zealand counterpart has risen 3.1 per cent in the same period.

Demand for the kiwi was hampered after the Finance Minister said the currency was overvalued and could reverse course.

"There may be a correction in valuation with the exchange rate when the US economy is clearly picking up, and there are signs of that now," Bill English said in an interview in Hong Kong. The strength in the currency is "driven to a large extent by quantitative easing".

Mr English's words "add to some of the bearish tone we've seen around the New Zealand dollar", said Jonathan Cavenagh, a currency strategist in Singapore at Westpac Banking Corp.

"I still think the currency is going to be pretty well supported on dips."

South Korea's won snapped its longest run of losses in almost five years while the Malaysian ringgit strengthened against the dollar.

Meanwhile, emerging-market stocks rose on overseas markets for the first time in seven days as concern about Europe's debt crisis eased and the lowest valuations in three months lured investors.

Japan's Samsung Electronics, which relies on Europe for at least 17 per cent of sales, advanced the most in a month in Seoul after falling 2.4 per cent on Monday.

Haier Electronics Group jumped 4.6 per cent in Hong Kong after profit gained.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index climbed 0.3 per cent to 1033.59 in afternoon trading in Hong Kong, halting a six-day, 3.4 per cent slump.

Indian stocks also rose before the central bank meets to review monetary policy.

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