Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The Australian and New Zealand dollars rose to 12-week highs before U.S. reports this week forecast to show economic growth is accelerating, encouraging demand for higher-yielding assets.
The South Pacific nations’ currencies also increased on speculation European Union finance ministers meeting today in Brussels will make progress on measures to help resolve the region’s sovereign-debt crisis. French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said negotiations between Greece and its private creditors are making progress.
“Any positive economic outcomes in the U.S. would represent a continuation of the trend in recent weeks and months, and that would certainly be beneficial for risky currencies,” said Andrew Salter, a strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Sydney.
Australia’s dollar appreciated 0.4 percent to $1.0526 at 12:26 p.m. New York time after advancing to $1.0573, the highest level since Oct. 31. New Zealand’s dollar rose 0.4 percent to 80.97 U.S. cents after touching 81.42, also the highest level since Oct. 31.
The MSCI World Index of stocks rose 0.3 percent following a 2.9 percent gain last week.
U.S. gross domestic product increased at a 3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, according to the median forecast of 76 economists in a Bloomberg News survey before the Commerce Department’s Jan. 27 report. That compares with a 1.8 percent advance in the previous three-month period. Other reports this week may show gains in new-home sales and durable goods.
Prices paid by Australian producers rose at a slower pace than economists forecast last quarter as cheaper agriculture costs partly offset more expensive industrial machinery.
The producer price index rose 0.3 percent after an increase of 0.6 percent in the previous quarter, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 0.4 percent increase.
A Credit Suisse Group AG index based on swaps indicates an 84 percent chance that the Reserve Bank of Australia will lower rates by 25 basis points, or 0.25 percentage point, when policy makers convene Feb. 7. The benchmark rate is 4.25 percent following quarter-point reductions at each of the central bank’s two previous meetings.
--With assistance from Allison Bennett in New York. Editors: Dennis Fitzgerald, Paul Cox
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