WELLINGTON/SYDNEY, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars were firm on Wednesday, aided by buoyant Asian equities on an improving global economic outlook, while they held near recent highs against a depressed sterling.
* Market wary ahead of a speech by Reserve Bank of New Zealand governor Graeme Wheeler at 0230 GMT, in which he is expected to touch on the exchange rate.
* The New Zealand dollar firm at $0.8459, up from a low around $0.8405 touched on Tuesday. Support for NZD seen at the Tuesday's low with resistance at $0.8500 and $0.8520.
* Kiwi lifted by a 3.1 percent jump in prices at Fonterra's latest auction, the biggest gain in five months.
* The Aussie marks time at $1.0346, from $1.0325 in late local trade on Tuesday. Support seen at $1.0320, the 200-day MA, with resistance initially around $1.0375 and then $1.0400.
* Both currencies aided by heavy selling of sterling, partly on persistent rumours the UK may lose its triple A credit rating. Pound at A$1.4909, having dived to A$1.4864, its lowest since last August.
* Against the kiwi, sterling at NZ$1.8239, very near lifetime lows of NZ$1.8141 touched last week. Pound has skidded 7 pct so far this year against the kiwi and 4.5 pct vs Aussie.
* Supporting Aussie is a strong run in iron ore prices to $157.20 a tonne, not far from January's peak at $158.50. The steel-making mineral is Australia's single biggest export earner.
* Australian data shows wages grew at their slowest annual pace in two and half years last quarter, a turnaround that should help contain inflation and give scope for further rate cuts if needed.
* In New Zealand, producers' input and output prices slipped in Q4, another sign of subdued inflationary pressures that could lessen the need for higher interest rates in the near term.
* The RBNZ has kept its cash rate at a record-low 2.5 pct since April 2011, though a recent run of firm data points to an improving economy after a soft spot in the middle of last year.
* New Zealand government bonds soft with yields as much as 3 basis points higher along the curve.
* Australian government bond futures ease with the three-year contract off 0.03 points at 97.070. ,
* The 10-yr contract down 0.015 points at 96.415, having earlier touched a 10-month low of 96.405. Strong support seen near 96.400 and a break would target the 61.8 pct retracement of last year's March-June climb.
(Australia and New Zealand bureaux) Keywords: MARKETS AUSTRALIA NEWZEALAND/FOREX
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