The smart money shows no sign of losing confidence in the Australian dollar as analysts belatedly acknowledge the appeal of a high-yielding currency with a world- beating developed economy.

The trade-weighted index for the so-called Aussie reached its highest level since 1985 yesterday, spurring analysts to reverse course after cutting year-end forecasts for the currency. Australia’s dollar will likely trade at $1.02 by Dec. 31, up from estimates at the end of March of $1.01, according to the median of 42 forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. Rabobank NA, the currency’s most-accurate forecaster, boosted its outlook.

Buoyed by a record mining investment boom, Australia’s economy grew 3.6 percent in 2012, the fastest pace in five years and the best performance among the Group of 10 currency nations. While the government reported today that the unemployment rate rose to the highest level since November 2009, the nation will lead growth through 2015, expanding an average 2.9 percent, according to Bloomberg surveys of economists.

“The Australian dollar meets our criteria of a strong currency and we do believe it will be an important beneficiary of continued central-bank reserve diversification,” Jonathan Lewis, New York-based chief investment officer and a founder of Samson Capital Advisors LLC, which oversees about $7.3 billion, wrote in an e-mailed response to questions. “We believe this is a very long-term investment theme.”

Reserve Managers

Three-quarters of 60 central banks polled in February said they are investing in or may buy Australian dollars, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said April 7.

Australia’s dollar rose for a fourth day, strengthening 0.1 percent to $1.0558 at 9:23 a.m. New York time after advancing to $1.0582, the most since Jan. 11. It has remained above $1 for a record nine-month stretch. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s trade-weighted index, which tracks the Aussie against the currencies of 21 nations that account for at least 90 percent of the country’s commerce, rose 0.4 to 79.90 yesterday, the most since February 1985.

Samson’s Strong Nations Currency Fund, which considers economic and financial positions, governance and law while making foreign-exchange investments, held 9.1 percent of its assets in the Australian dollar as of March 31, the largest share along with the Chilean peso among currencies outside of the U.S. dollar, according to its website.

AAA Rating

UBS Global Asset Management, overseeing about $630 billion worldwide, expects the Aussie to stay high as investors “just love” the yields it offers.