Is the Australian dollar set to fall below US65 cents?

The soaring Australian dollar has taken investors by complete surprise in recent months, but one of the world’s biggest fund managers isn’t convinced the rally is permanent.

The dollar hit a low of just US68.28 cents earlier in the year, and was stuck in a downwards spiral at the time. This was mostly due to plunging commodity prices, slower Chinese growth and expectations of as many as four interest rate hikes in the United States in 2016.

In the time since however, commodity prices have spiked and interest rate hike expectations from the US Federal Reserve have now been lowered to just two times in 2016. As a result, the dollar recently rebounded above US76 cents, and is fetching US75.79 cents at the time of writing.

While some analysts are convinced the dollar could keep rising in the near-term, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that BlackRock’s Stephen Miller, who is head of fixed-income for Australia, is still bearish on the currency despite its resurgence.

In fact, he reportedly sees the Aussie plunging at least 15% which would take it even lower than the multi-year low it hit in January. The newspaper quoted him as saying: “The Aussie dollar is a volatile currency, it’s sometimes a case of five steps down and two steps up… We’re in the two steps up phase and the next phase will be the five steps down phase.”

Is the AUD headed for US65 cents?

There are a number of factors that support his case. To begin with, commodity prices have rebounded strongly, but there are reasons to believe those rebounds may only be temporary. As prices fall, so too could the Australian dollar.

And if that doesn’t happen, then the Reserve Bank of Australia could be forced to lower the nation’s own cash rate to show its commitment to achieving a lower dollar. Members of the RBA board have expressed their preference to see the dollar at around the US65 cent level, but it may need to start reducing interest rates if the dollar doesn’t start falling on its own accord.

According to The SMH, Miller thinks the dollar will fall to that US65 cent level, and possibly lower before the end of the year. He was further quoted as saying: ” Over time, albeit in a fairly volatile fashion, we’ll still get to the mid- to-low 60c level by the end of this year.”

As an investor, there are a number of ways you can play this trend. If, like most analysts out there, you believe the Australian dollar will fall before the end of the year, you could look at investing in businesses with heavy international exposure.

In my opinion, Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) and Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) are great companies to consider for this. As they repatriate their earnings back to Australia, local investors benefit from the favourable exchange rate.

It’s also worth considering the likelihood of another RBA interest rate cut. As it stands, the market is pricing in a 10% chance of an interest rate cut in April, according to the RBA Rate Indicator on the ASX website, but a cut later in the year certainly isn’t out of the question.

As such, investors could look to invest in dividend shares offering solid yields. Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) is one company to consider after a heavy fall in its share price recently, while Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) could also be a decent long-term investment at today’s prices.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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