SYDNEY, April 9 (Reuters) – The Australian dollar stumbled on Friday, pulling on the New Zealand dollar as well, due to concerns about a slowdown in Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout following the imposition of age-related restrictions on the use of AstraZeneca injections.
The Australian dollar was last down 0.6% at $ 0.7607, nearly reversing its gains from Thursday and falling back from a two-week peak of $ 0.7675 after failing to hold above major chart resistance at $ 0.7668.
Australia has limited the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – which is largely based on a vaccination program – because of the risk of blood clots. The policy change effectively undermined the government’s chances of inoculating the entire population that was not inoculated by October.
“Even if the vaccination program is slow, it will further complicate Australia’s launch schedule,” said Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA.
“Delayed border reopening equals negative for Australia.”
For the week so far, the Aussie is still up 0.3%, the first gain since the week of March 12th.
The currency has been consolidating around $ 0.7650 in recent weeks after a brief advance to $ 0.80 earlier this year. Some analysts expect the price to hit that high again.
“We continue to expect the AUD to rise to $ 0.85 in the first half of 2022, supported by high commodity prices and by the momentum gathering in the global recovery, including across Europe,” currency strategist Westpac wrote in a note.
Westpac expects the currency to hit $ 0.82 by the end of this year.
“The main source of increased growth is an increase in our forecast for US growth in 2021,” added the analysts.
The New Zealand dollar fell 0.5% to $ 0.7025. The kiwi faces resistance at $ 0.7070 with the next major barrier at $ 0.7100.
For the week this has been largely unchanged, marking another week of disappointing performance.
Separately, the prospect of a rate hike in China weighed on the antipodean currency after data showed the country’s factory prices rose at the fastest annual rate since July 2018 in March.
China is the top trading partner for Australia and New Zealand.
“Overall, AUD and NZD, are facing a number of obstacles today,” said Halley of OANDA. (Edited by Simon Cameron-Moore)