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Australian dollar passes $0.80 as euro steady above $1.17

The Australian dollar joined the euro on Thursday at a more than two-plus year high against the US dollar after the Federal Reserve signalled it was ready to start reducing its balance sheet “relatively soon”.

The Australian dollar was trading at $0.8028 in Asia in the morning session, around its highest level in two years and two months in the wake of comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

Those comments gave new strength to a rally that appeared to be out of steam, driving the currency up 0.9 per cent against the greenback on Wednesday after falling as much as 0.8 per cent beforehand.

The euro was maintaining its level at $1.1730, just below a two and a half year high reached on Wednesday following Ms Yellen’s comments.

The renminbi firmed as much as 0.2 per cent after China’s central bank set its trading band for the currency firmer by a third of a per cent, reaching a new record level of strength for the year to date of Rmb6.7387.

The yen was just below the ¥111 mark at ¥110.99, stronger by about 1 per cent from its level before the US central bank announced it would leave interest rates unchanged following a meeting of its policy-setting Open Market Committee, acknowledged recent disappointing data on inflation and said it still expected its 2 per cent inflation target to be met in the medium term.

The dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of peers was about 0.8 per cent lower from its pre-announcement level at 93.458.