Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2019

Aussie dollar jumps on China data, sterling steady before Brexit votes

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FILE PHOTO: A vendor gives change of 10 Yuan notes to a customer in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: A vendor gives change of 10 Yuan notes to a customer at a market in Beijing, August 12, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

April 1, 2019

By Tom Finn

LONDON (Reuters) – The euro held above a three-week low on Monday as improved Chinese factory activity lifted sentiment, with the Australian dollar leading gains by nearly half a percent.

Investors are scrutinizing economic data this week for signs of economic slowdown in Europe, while key votes on Brexit mean further volatility in sterling is likely.

Risk appetite grew after China’s official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) released on Sunday showed factory activity unexpectedly grew in March for the first time in four months.

The positive readings pushed the Australian dollar, often seen as an investment proxy for Chinese economic prospects, 0.4 percent higher to $0.7126.

The Chinese yuan gained a quarter of a percent in offshore trade to 6.707 to the dollar.

Traders braced for a raft of economic data set to show the eurozone economy on hold, with inflation, unemployment, and manufacturing PMIs all largely flat on their previous read-outs.

The euro struggled near a three-week low of $1.1210 brushed on Friday. The single currency was last trading up 0.1 percent at $1.1232.

“We think the euro is cheap. But unless we see a significant re-assessment of European growth prospects, then it is hard to see a rally either,” ING analysts said in a note to clients.

The quest for a way out of the Brexit stalemate continues on Monday evening when British lawmakers will vote on alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement.

The two alternatives with the widest support are keeping Britain in a customs union with the European Union, and having any outcome validated by a second referendum – both of which are anathema to large parts of May’s Conservative Party.

Sterling was a shade high at $1.3060, still within sight of Friday’s near three-week low of $1.2977 and not far from last month’s low of $1.2945.

The greenback rose 0.4 percent to 124.79 yen, extending its advance from the 1-1/2-month low of 109.70 it touched a week ago to 1.3 percent.

Positive risk sentiment helped boost emerging market currencies.

The Mexican peso gained 0.35 percent to 19.364 to the dollar while the South African rand tacked on about 0.8 percent to 14.395 per dollar.

The Turkish lira eased more than 1 percent to 5.6158 per dollar after President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party lost control of the capital Ankara for the first time in a local election.

(Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by David Holmes)

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