AUD/USD surges despite soft GDP data

The Australian dollar has posted strong gains on Wednesday despite a weak GDP report today. In the North American session, AUD/USD is trading at 0.6562, up 0.90%.

Australian GDP posts weak gain of 0.2%

Australia’s economy ended 2023 on whimper rather than a gain, as GDP rose just 0.2% q/q the fourth quarter. This was lower than the 0.3% gain in the third quarter and missed the market estimate which was also 0.3%.

The economy has been limping along and the Q4 release marked the weakest quarterly growth in five quarters. On an annual basis, GDP rose 1.5%, just above the market estimate of 1.4%. On the positive side, exports were up and imports fell, and household spending showed a small gain of 0.1%.

Consumers are still being squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis and high mortgage payments as the Reserve Bank of Australia is yet to lower elevated interest rate levels. The RBA has raised rates only once since June 2023 and hasn’t ruled out rate hikes, although the markets believe that rates have peaked and have priced in rate cuts later this year.

The RBA is unlikely to consider lowering rates until inflation falls lower. In January, CPI rose 3.4% y/y, still well above the RBA’s target band of 2-3%. The next meeting is on March 18th and the RBA is widely expected to maintain rates.

In the US, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking Committee later today. Powell is expected to reiterate that inflation is moving lower but needs to come down further before the Fed will feel comfortable in lowering rates.

The Fed’s consistent message of patience and caution appears to have been internalized by the markets, which are now in line with the Fed and have priced in three rate cuts this year. In January, investors had expected up to six cuts, but a stronger-than-expected US economy and a hawkish Fed have dampened the markets’ rate cut expectations.

AUD/USD Technical

  • AUD/USD has pushed past resistance at 0.6527 and is testing resistance at 0.6566
  • 0.6486 and 0.6447 are providing support

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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.