Retail sales gives Australian dollar brief boost

  • Australian retail sales rebounds with 0.5% gain
  • Fed’s Powell keeps door open to further hikes

The Australian dollar started the week with gains but then retreated. In the European session, AUD/USD is trading at 0.6408, up 0.09%. Last week, the Australian dollar showed significant swings of around 1%.

Australia’s retail sales surprise on the upside

Australian retail sales rebounded in July with a respectable gain of 0.5% m/m.  This followed a dismal -0.8% reading in June and beat the consensus estimate of 0.3%. The welcome uptick was driven by the Women’s World Cup which was held in Australia and was a massive boost for Australia’s travel and retail sectors. Much of the tournament took place in August, which means that the August retail sales report should also receive a shot to the arm.

The August report showed that consumers still have an appetite for spending, but there are unmistakable signs that the economy is cooling. Inflation has been falling, wage growth in the second quarter was weaker than expected and unemployment rose to 3.7%. This all points to the Reserve Bank of Australia holding rates at the September 5th meeting, and the future markets have priced a hold at around 90%.

The slowdown in China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner, could throw a monkey wrench into the central bank’s efforts to guide the economy to a soft landing. There is a always the concern that aggressive tightening, with the aim of curbing inflation, will choke economic growth and tip the economy into a recession. The Australian dollar is sensitive to Chinese releases and the recent batch of soft Chinese data has weighed on the struggling Australian dollar.

Powell sends a cautious message

Federal Chair Jerome Powell delivered the keynote speech on Friday, but anyone looking for dramatic headlines walked away disappointed. Powell reiterated that the battle to lower inflation to the 2% target “still has a long way to go”. Powell was somewhat hawkish with regard to interest rates, saying that the Fed would “proceed carefully” with regard to raising rates or putting rates on hold and waiting for additional data. This was a deliberate omission of any mention of rate cuts, a signal that the Fed isn’t even thinking about lowering rates. The future markets responded by raising the odds of a rate hike in September to 21%, up from 14% a week ago.


AUD/USD Technical

  • AUD/USD is testing resistance at 0.6424. Above, there is resistance at 0.6470
  • There is support at 0.6360 and 0.6317

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Kenny Fisher

Kenny Fisher

Market Analyst at OANDA
A highly experienced financial market analyst with a focus on fundamental and macroeconomic analysis, Kenny Fisher’s daily commentary covers a broad range of markets including forex, equities and commodities. His work has been published in major online financial publications including, Seeking Alpha and FXStreet. Kenny has been a MarketPulse contributor since 2012.