The antipodean currencies such as the Australia and the New Zealand dollars strengthened against their major currencies in the Asian session on Thursday, as Asian stock markets traded higher after the U.S. Fed left interest rates unchanged and reiterated expectations for three quarter point interest rate cuts later this year, which had been in some doubt. Traders also reacted to a couple of domestic economic data each from Australia and Japan.

The latest projections suggest that Fed officials expect rates to be lowered to a range of 4.50 to 4.75 percent by the end of 2024. In the accompanying statement, Fed officials acknowledged inflation has eased over the past year, but still need "greater confidence" inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent before cutting rates.

The Australian dollar started rising after the release of nation's upbeat jobs data for February.

In economic news, Australia's unemployment rate came in at a seasonally adjusted 3.7 percent in February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday - well beneath forecasts for 4.0 percent and down from 4.1 percent in January.

The Australian economy added 116,500 jobs last month, blowing away forecasts for an increase of 39,700 jobs following the addition of 500 jobs in the previous month. Full-time jobs saw an increase of 78,200 after adding 11,100 a month earlier. The participation rate fell to 66.7 percent, shy of expectations for 66.8 percent - which would have been unchanged.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to contract in March, the latest survey from Judo Bank revealed on Thursday with a manufacturing PMI score of 46.8. That's down from 47.8 in February, and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the services PMI improved to 53.5 in March from 53.1 in February.

Data from Statistics New Zealand showed that New Zealand's gross domestic product contracted a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2023. That was shy of forecasts for an increase of 0.1 percent following the 0.3 percent decline in the previous three months as the country remains in recession.

On an annualized basis, GDP fell 0.3 percent - again missing forecasts for a gain of 0.1 percent after sinking 0.6 percent in the third quarter.

In the Asian trading now, the Australian dollar rose to nearly a 9-1/2-year high of 99.89 against the yen and nearly a 2-week high of 1.6498 against the euro, from yesterday's closing quotes of 99.47 and 1.6574, respectively. If the aussie extends its uptrend, it is likely to find resistance around 100.00 against the yen and 1.63 against the euro.

Against the Canada and the U.S. dollars, the aussie advanced to 1-week highs of 0.8923 and 0.6629 from Wednesday's closing quotes of 0.8891 and 0.6599, respectively. The aussie may test resistance near 0.90 against the loonie and 0.67 against the greenback.

Against the NZ dollar, the aussie advanced to nearly a 4-month high of 1.0870 from yesterday's closing value of 1.0836. On the upside, 1.09 is seen as the next resistance level for the aussie.

The NZ dollar rose to a 3-day high of 0.6101 against the U.S. dollar and a 2-day high of 1.7922 against the euro, from yesterday's closing quotes of 0.6090 and 1.7960, respectively. If the kiwi extends its uptrend, it is likely to find resistance around 0.62 against the greenback and 1.76 against the euro.

Against the yen, the kiwi edged up to 91.93 from Wednesday's closing value of 91.80. The kiwi is likely to find resistance around the 93.00 region.

Looking ahead, U.K. public sector finance data for February, Eurozone current account data for January and PMI reports from various European economies and U.K. for March are due to be released in the European session.

At 4:30 am ET, the Swiss National Bank announces its monetary policy decision. The bank is widely expected to maintain the benchmark rate at 1.875%.

At 8:00 am ET, the Bank of England releases the monetary policy summary and minutes of the monetary policy committee meeting. The bank is widely expected to maintain the benchmark rate at 5.25 percent but to keep hawkish guidance.

In the New York session, U.S. Canada new housing price index for February, U.S. weekly jobless claims, U.S.PMI data for March and U.S. current account data for the fourth quarter are slated for release.

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