By Gyles Beckford and Cecile Lefort
WELLINGTON/SYDNEY, May 3 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar was bolstered by a weaker euro on Friday after the European Central Bank (ECB) opened the door to more aggressive easing, but it still plumbed three-year lows against its kiwi cousin.
The euro was off at A$1.2730, having skidded more than a cent on Thursday after the ECB surprised by suggesting it was ready to take deposit rates into negative territory.
The latter move was seen as an attempt to talk the single currency down, as its recent gains were an effective tightening of policy in the recession-hit region.
The euro also lost steam against the kiwi dollar to last fetch NZ$1.5334, having shed 1 percent on Thursday.
With all the action in the euro crosses, the Antipodeans held steady against their U.S. dollar counterpart. The Aussie inched up to $1.0265, from $1.0250 early, but looked vulnerable to talk Australia's central bank could join the global easing party.
'There is increasing speculation of a rate cut next week,' said Greg Gibbs, a strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland in Singapore, in part due to disappointing Chinese data.
The Reserve Bank of Australia holds its monthly policy meeting on May 7 and financial markets imply a little more than a 50-50 chance of a quarter-point cut to a record low of 2.75 percent.
However, the majority of economists expect the central bank to hold off for now before cutting in June. Eighteen respondents out of 22 respondents forecast the central bank to hold rates steady next week, a Reuters poll showed.
RBS's Gibbs who was siding for a cut in June said he would not be surprised if the RBA's board decided to move next week.
'Markets tend to move a little faster than economists and I think they are right to get the odds to 50-50,' he said.
In contrast, investors see more chances of a tightening in New Zealand, rather than an easing, in the next 12 months.
The diverging rate outlook sent the Aussie down to NZ$1.2028 , its weakest since October 2009.
The kiwi dollar edged up to $0.8522, from $0.8492 early, not far from a two-week high of 0.8587 set on Tuesday.
On a trade-weighted basis, it rose 0.7 percent on the day and looked set to head back towards the life-time high seen in mid-April.
Focus was now on U.S. non-farm payrolls due later on Friday, with expectations that 145,000 jobs were added in April and the jobless rate held steady at 7.6 percent.
'For U.S non-farm payrolls the risks are seemingly to the downside following the weaker than expected ADP (jobless claims) result,' said ASB Bank economist Daniel Smith.
'This could see NZ dollar test the 0.8450 support level if a risk-off tone develops.'
Near term resistance was seen at $0.8542, and then $0.8563.
New Zealand government bonds were flat, having given up the slight bid tone at the open.
Australian debt futures remained near five-month highs with the three-year contract steady at 97.500 and the 10-year contract at 96.965.
Two-year cash yields were at 2.51 percent, near the lowest since October last year and down almost 40 basis points in just the past month.
(Australia and New Zealand bureaux) Keywords: MARKETS AUSTRALIA NEWZEALAND/FOREX
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