Australia, NZ dlrs Ease; on Track for Small Weekly Gains

SYDNEY, Feb 12 Reuters The Australian and New Zealand dollars slipped on Friday as risk sentiment took a knock after alarmingly high U.S. jobless claims and Victoria states entry into a fiveday snap lockdown after a fresh coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne linked to the UK strain.

Both currencies were still on track for small weekly gains led by a recent run of upbeat domestic data.

The Australian dollar was off 0.2 at 0.7739 as the lockdown, starting at midnight on Friday, in the countrys secondmost populous state cast a shadow over broader economic recovery hopes.

For the week, it is so far up 0.6.

The New Zealand dollar was also slightly weaker at 0.7213 but was on track for a small weekly gain.

In Australia, measures of consumer and corporate sentiment, card spending, credit growth and home building have surpassed expectations in recent months underpinning the Aussie dollar.

However, a short, sharp circuit breaker banning public gatherings, home auctions, weddings and religious gatherings in Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital city, hung heavy on the outlook.

Also worrying investors, U.S. data out overnight showed weekly jobless claims were still alarmingly high.

Meanwhile on the virus front, we see declining infection trends in most countries…and hospitalization rates too, said Ray Attrill, head of forex strategy at National Australia Bank.

Vaccination rollouts are proceeding apace. All encouraging, but not sufficient to allow markets to price in…

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