$A rises on US Fed stimulus program

Reported by AAP
Thursday, December 13, 2012
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The Australian dollar has risen after the US central bank announced it would extend its bond buying program, in order to ease lending rates and stimulate spending.

At 1700 AEDT on Thursday, the local unit was trading at 105.52 US cents, up from 105.32 cents at Wednesday's close.

Early on Thursday morning, Australian time, it peaked at 105.87 US cents, just before the US Federal Reserve announcement, its highest level since September 14.

CMC Markets foreign exchange dealer Tim Waterer said the Australian dollar rose to a three-month high in anticipation of the Fed announcement but the buoyant mood was short lived.

"We saw a move higher by the Australian dollar and other currencies against a broadly-weaker greenback," he said.

"Last night, it looked like we could have reached 106 (US cents), but comments from (Fed chairman Ben) Bernanke about the fiscal cliff doused some of that optimism."

At the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday, the policy committee of the Fed said it planned to extend its debt-purchasing program, spending $US45 billion ($A42.95 billion) a month on long-term bonds, with the goal of keeping lending rates low, and stimulating spending.

However, it said it would no longer cover the cost of the purchases through the sale of short term debt.

Mr Waterer said the fiscal cliff - a series of tax rises and spending cuts due to begin in early 2013 - would remain the focus for markets towards the end of the year.

At 1700 AEDT, the Australian dollar was at 88.26 Japanese yen, up from 87.04 yen on Wednesday, and at 80.66 euro cents, down from 81.01 euro cents.

Meanwhile, Australian bond futures prices were weaker.

At 1630 AEDT on Thursday, the December 10-year bond futures contract was at 96.770 (implying a yield of 3.230 per cent), down from 96.855 (3.145 per cent) on Wednesday.

The December three-year bond futures contract was trading at 97.260 (2.740 per cent), down from 97.320 (2.680 per cent).

At midday on Thursday, the December 2012 90-day bank bill futures contract expired.

ANZ head of interest rate research Tony Morriss said it wasn't clear why bond prices had fallen after the US Federal Reserve meeting.

"US bonds are weaker, and that's kept our market on the back foot," he said.

"We're trying for figure out why, since the Fed has looked to extend easing, and has an easing bias."

He said the market would be looking to a general election in Japan on December 16, as the result could provide clues to potential quantitative easing there.

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