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On early Monday trading, the Australian dollar plunged in Asian markets after the release of several data sets, showing mixed growths and declines for the month of February and March. Due to the mixed bag kind of data release for the Aussies, the country’s domestic currency fell against several other foreign exchanges on Monday trading, with the disappointing retail sales decline mostly behind the AUD plunge.

AUD vs. Basket of Currencies

The Aussie dollar plunged on Monday against other currencies due to mixed data reports. Following the data release, AUD/USD was down 0.14% at 0.7618. At the time of writing, the Aussie trades 0.28% down at 0.7606 0857 GMT.

The AUD/GBP pair was also down by 0.38% to 0.6060, while AUD/EUR traded 0.52% lower at 0.7122. For Aussie against kiwi dollar, AUD plunged 0.09% to 1.0871, while the aussie/yen pair lost 0.34% in recent trading session at 84.66. The AUD/CAD pair was also down by 0.25% to 1.0132.

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Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia is set to hold a meeting on April 4 (Tuesday) regarding interest rates. According to several speculations, there is a high possibility for the central bank to hold present rates again at 1.50%, with some hints from officials who wished to hold interest rates for quite some time.

With the latest retail sales decline, analysts still speculate to see a more dovish approach from the central bank. The prospect of interest rate hikes could drive the Australian dollar to reach selling interest from investors and traders.

Retail Sales Data                                                  

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In February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) posted that Australian retail sales were down by 0.1% to $25.7 billion, lower than the 0.3% increase forecast, as well as a plunge from January’s data of 0.4% increase.

Under food retailing, the seasonally adjusted estimated increased 0.3%, with Supermarket and grocery stores climbed by 0.4% and liquor retailing up by 0.3%, but other specialized food down by 0.2%. Under food services, the overall industry remained at 0.0% growth but cafes, restaurants and catering services grew 0.8%, while takeaway food was down by 1.1%.

Meanwhile, household goods retailing fell 0.4%, with the subgroup furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textile goods retailing seeing most decline by 2.5%, but there was an increase both for electrical and electronic goods retailing and hardware, building and garden supplies by 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively.

Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing also declined in February by 2.5%, with the clothing subgroup the main driver for the overall decline, plunging 2.9%, followed by the 1.9% decrease under footwear and other personal accessories.

Meanwhile, department stores climbed 0.8% in February, while other retailing remained unchanged. However, newspaper and book retailing fell 3.1% and other recreational goods also down by 1.8%. Still. Pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toiletry goods retailing were up 0.8%.

By state and territories, more states saw declines, with Western Australia seeing biggest decline in retail sales by 0.7%, followed by Tasmania at 0.5%, then Victoria 0.3%, and Queensland 0.2%.Three states and territories saw growth with New South Wales and the North Territory leading both with 0.4%, followed by South Australia with a growth of 0.1%.

Australia’s dismal retail sales were the second decline in sales reported by ABS for the last three months.

Other Economic Data

Meanwhile, Australia saw another continuing strength under the manufacturing PMI data. The Ai Group released the latest Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data in March at a level of 57.5.

Although the data for March was slightly down from last month’s 59.3 data and 15-year high, this month’s PMI was still on a strong level, being above 50, indicating strong activity levels in the industry.

Under building approvals for the month of February, the ABS reported a surge of 8.3%. For private sector dwellings, approval rating came in 10.9% higher, while value of total building approved climbed 19.9% for the month from a previous 3% decline in January. Residential and non-residential building approvals also both climbed during the month at 13.9% and 34.5%, respectively.

The Australian and New Zealand Banking Group released on Monday total job ads, which increased 0.3% month-over-month for March, recovering from the 0.8% plunge last February. The annual job ads growth also grew by 7% from the previous 6.9% data a month ago.

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