Daily Morning Report 02.03.2017

The Australian and New Zealand dollars slipped lower against their U.S. counterpart on Thursday, after the release of mixed Australian data and as hopes for a March rate hike in the U.S. continued to support demand for the greenback.

AUD/USD fell 0.27% to 0.7655.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier reported that building approvals increased by 1.8% in January, compared to expectations for a 0.4% fall.

Building approvals dropped 2.5% in December, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated 1.2% decline.

A separate report showed that Australia’s trade surplus narrowed to A$1.302 billion in January from A$3.334 billion in December, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated trade surplus of A$3.511 billion.

Analysts had expected the trade surplus to widen to A$3.800 billion in January.

NZD/USD edged down 0.17% to trade at 0.7131, just off the previous session’s six-week low of 0.7098.

Meanwhile, the greenback remained underpinned after a number of Federal Reserve officials expressed their support for a March rate hike.

Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said on Monday that a rate hike should come sooner rather than later in order to curb rising inflation, while New York Fed President William Dudley said that the case for tightening monetary policy “has become a lot more compelling”.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams said that a rate increase was very much on the table for serious consideration at the March meeting given full employment and accelerating inflation.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.18% at 101.92, just below Wednesday’s seven-week high of 101.97.