The Aussie rose at least 0.3 percent against all of its 16 major counterparts after Stevens said he’d need to be confident the currency was “seriously overvalued” before considering intervention to weaken it.
“Stevens’s comments are very firmly focused on what a strong currency means for inflation, rather than including any threat of action,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Sydney. “The tone of his prepared comments indicates no great urgency to cut rates.”
The Australian dollar jumped 0.8 percent to $1.0332, the biggest gain since Jan. 2.
New Zealand’s currency rose for the first time in three days against the greenback after a report showed credit-card spending increased for a third month in January.
The so-called kiwi gained 0.6 percent to 83.86 U.S. cents.
The currency slid 1.3 percent on Feb. 20 after Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler said “the kiwi is not a one-way bet”, adding he was ready to intervene in foreign-exchange markets to influence the currency.
The yen weakened against all of its main peers before Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets today with U.S. President Barack Obama.
“The market will be watching how supportive the U.S. will be for Abe’s economic policies,” said Kumiko Gervaise, an analyst at Gaitame.com Research Institute Ltd. in Tokyo. “If they see approval for easier monetary policy, the yen can weaken further.”
The meeting between Abe and Obama in Washington follows a Group of 20 summit in Moscow that ended Feb. 16 with finance ministers and central bankers signaling support for Japanese stimulus as long as Abe’s ministers cease public advocation of a weaker currency.
The yen has tumbled 12 percent in the past three months, the worst performer of 10 developed-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes. The dollar gained 0.5 percent, and the euro rose 3.1 percent.
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