Aussie dollar below Singdollar for first time since 2009

Softer commodity prices around the world, the rising US dollar and the uncertainty over China continue to weigh on the Aussie dollar.
Softer commodity prices around the world, the rising US dollar and the uncertainty over China continue to weigh on the Aussie dollar.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

The Australian dollar yesterday fell below the Singapore dollar for the first time since the global financial crisis in 2009.

Softer commodity prices around the world, the rising US dollar and the uncertainty over China - which is a key export market - continued to weigh on the currency, which has been on a downward trajectory in recent months.

The Aussie dollar slid to as low as 0.9970 against the Singdollar yesterday afternoon, before edging up to 0.9982 at around 7.30pm.

It was trading slightly above parity with the Singdollar at around $1.0031 earlier this month.

The currency has tumbled about 9 per cent since January and more than 17 per cent since July last year.

The more favourable exchange rate is good news for travellers headed Down Under, as well as Singaporean students studying there.

Travel firms such as Dynasty Travel have seen a 25 per cent to 30 per cent spike in Australia-bound holiday bookings since April.

Ms Alicia Seah, the company's director of marketing communications, told The Straits Times that she expects higher demand at the upcoming travel fairs.

"If this continues, I think the year-end travel numbers will be very strong," she said.

At the same time, analysts said Singapore businesses which are eyeing new investments in Australia now have "greater buying power".

Such companies could take the opportunity to go "bargain-hunting" and acquire good assets on a smaller budget, said Westpac currency analyst Sean Callow.

"But this is so long as there is still confidence in longer-term growth prospects," he added.

However, companies with a significant presence there, including telecommunications giant Singtel and real estate developer Frasers Centrepoint, could be adversely affected. Singtel, for instance, owns Australia's second-largest telco Optus, which contributes about 26 per cent to its overall earnings.

A Singtel spokesman said the group would have logged a 6 per cent jump in net profit for the full year to March 31, if the exchange rates for the Australian dollar and regional currencies had remained stable.

The group posted a 4 per cent year-on-year growth in net profit to $3.78 billion.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat, who is the head of forex research at Maybank Singapore, said the weak economic figures in China were a major factor in dragging down the Aussie dollar.

•Additional reporting by Annabeth Leow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Aussie dollar below Singdollar for first time since 2009'. Print Edition | Subscribe