Australian dollar up slightly

The Australian dollar has risen slightly Friday, buying 70.97 US cents, from 70.87 US cents on Thursday.

The dollar rose briefly after better-than-expected trade data from China, the nation’s top trading partner, but investors were cautious ahead of high-level Sino-US trade talks.

The negotiations, scheduled to run through Friday, follow three days of deputy-level meetings to work out technical details, including a mechanism for enforcing any trade agreement.

The Australian dollar was last up 0.3 per cent at 71.09 US cents after hitting a more than one-month trough of 70.54 US cents earlier this week.

The currency, which is also used as a liquid proxy for Chinese growth, briefly ticked up 10 pips to as high as 71.13 US cents after data from China came in stronger than forecast.

China’s January dollar-denominated exports rose 9.1 per cent from a year earlier, while imports dropped 1.5 per cent when analysts had expected both to fall for a second straight month.

The Aussie had lost almost 2.5 per cent just in the past two weeks as investors narrowed the odds of policy easing after Australia’s central bank signalled rates could move lower, if needed.

Nick Twidale, Sydney-based analyst at Rakuten Securities Australia, said now “all eyes move to Beijing”, given the trade talks.

“Investors are once again cautiously optimistic that progress will be made and realistically an extension of the tariff deadline will be seen as a good result in the short term and should spur momentum to the topside,” Twidale added.

“Only evidence of a solid deal going forward will dispel the investor caution and global growth fears that have been such a feature of the trading environment over the last year.”

Australian government bond futures were slightly firmer, with the three-year bond contract up half a tick at 98.325.

The 10-year contract rose 1.5 ticks to 97.865.

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