AUDUSD plunged to a a two-month low in Asian session trading on Thursday after data showed China’s manufacturing activity contracted in March for a fifth straight month, fuelling concerns about a slowdown in the second largest global economy. China is a major trading partner for Australia.The HSBC flash PMI showed the index fell to 48.1from 49.6. Any figure below 50 indicates contraction. AUDUSD dropped to 1.0375 after the data from an earlier high of 1.0482.
The yen rose immediately after Japan posted an unexpected trade surplus for February. Japanese exports exceeded imports by 32.9 billion yen in February, while a deficit of 120 billion yen had been forecast. USDJPY opened in Asia at 83.39 and fell to 83.12 where it steadied. Yen is expected to weaken following the Bank of Japan surprise easing last month. Today the BOJ said they will continue easing due to an uncertain economic outlook for the Japanese economy. EURJPY bounced off a session low of 109.87 to 110.43.
EURUSD opened in Asia at 1.3213 and was on the upside until it fell back following weak Chinese flash PMI data but has since bounced back towards the session high of1.3247. The focus will turn to key economic data from Europe later in the European trading session. PMI data are due.
GBPUSD opened the session at 1.5864 with no clear direction, trading a 1.5858-83 range. Focus turns to key UK retail sales data due today.
NZDUSD fell to 0.8063 0.8152 after the weak Chinese manufacturing data. Prior to this, the kiwi fell immediately after New Zealand posted lower GDP than expected in the fourth quarter, at 0.3 percent instead of 0.6 expected.
Oil prices fell after the China PMI data, for fears of slowing oil demand. Crude oil fell to $106.34 during the Asian session from $107.10.