‘Joke’ sends Aussie dollar plunging

AFP-JIJI

Australia’s central bank said Thursday that a comment from Gov. Glenn Stevens that sent the dollar to a three-year low was intended to be jocular.

The bank on Tuesday announced the official interest rate would remain at 2.75 percent, with hopes for a further fall in the mining-powered dollar.

The following day, Stevens told a business function in his usual deadpan delivery that policymakers had deliberated for a “very” long time to leave the cash rate unchanged.

The off-the-cuff comment was read by investors as a sign that the policymakers had been close to a fresh rate cut and would now be more likely to reduce the rate next month. The Australian dollar fell below 91 U.S. cents — its lowest level since September 2010.

“The governor’s remarks . . . were meant to be light-hearted,” Reserve Bank of Australia Deputy Gov. Phillip Lowe said Thursday.