SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars are likely to stay resilient this year, a Reuters poll showed, even as fears of a global trade war spark wild gyrations in currency markets.
The survey of 33-47 analysts plotted an uneventful future for the Australian dollar, which is seen at $0.7700 in one-month, $0.7800 in three months, $0.7720 in six months and $0.7900 over a one-year horizon.
That would be an unusually flat profile for the typically volatile currency. Over 2017, for example, the Aussie went from as low as $0.7165 to as high as $0.8125 before ending the year just above $0.7800. It currently sits at $0.7684.
The currency began 2018 on a solid footing, soaring to a 2-1/2-year peak of $0.8136 in late January.
But it toppled from the highs on a cocktail of factors, including the risk of faster rate rises in the United States and the spectre of a trade war after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped import tariffs on certain goods, including steel.
The move met with tit-for-tat measures by China, spooking investors who fear the deepening spat between the world’s biggest economies could derail global growth which is seeing its first synchronised upturn in several years.
The ongoing uncertainty might explain the wide range in the forecasts from as low as $0.7000 and as high as $0.8600 on a one-year horizon.
While a reduction in trade would hurt both Australia and New Zealand, most analysts see the Aussie as being more vulnerable to a trade war, recommending buying the kiwi as a hedge.
Indeed, the kiwi is up 2.4 percent so far this year while the Aussie has slipped nearly 2 percent.
“One advantage New Zealand does have over Australia is that its soft commodity exports to China and the United States are consumed in those local markets,” said Sean Keane, a director at Triple T Consulting who prepares reports for Credit Suisse.
“They are not generally repacked and on-sold to third countries.”
New Zealand’s top export earner is milk.
By comparison, the Australian export of raw bulk commodities such as iron ore and coal to China is both consumed locally and used to transform raw product into finished industrial goods such as steel.
They are then re-exported around the world, including to the United States.
“These exports and the demand for the raw commodities that go into them, will certainly be impacted by U.S./China tariffs, and production volumes will likely fall. That in turn will feed through to Australian prices and demand levels,” Keane added.
Analysts polled by Reuters still did not predict an upbeat future for the kiwi, which currently sits at $0.7260.
The median forecast put the currency at $0.7200 for one month, three months and six months, ticking up to $0.7400 in one year.
While the median forecasts were narrowly spread, there was far more variety at the extremes, with the highest prediction for 12-months out at $0.8000 and the lowest at $0.6500.
Editing by Jacqueline Wong