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NZ dollar falls to 2-month low on Australian data

NZ dollar falls to 2-month low as Australian data knobbles nervy investors

By Paul McBeth

March 4 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar fell to a two-month low as weaker-than-expected Australian data sapped already strained investors' appetite for higher yields, with Italy's election keeping people uncertain about Europe's future and the US Federal government preparing to impose dramatic budget cuts.

The kiwi fell as low as 82.08 US cents, its lowest level this year, and traded at 82.10 cents at 5pm in Wellington from 82.29 cents at 8am and 82.48 cents at the close of trading in New York last week. The trade-weighted index declined to 75.57 from 75.88.

The local currency followed its trans-Tasman cousin lower after Australian government figures showed a second straight decline in building permits, and as Chinese data indicated the slowest pace of expansion in the most populous nation's manufacturing sector.

"The kiwi's drifted lower all day, pulled down by a weaker Aussie that reflected the Australian economic data," said Joe Capurso, currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney. "The kiwi's still at a pretty strong level - the story for the week is probably going to be a little bit of a strong US dollar."

Risk sensitive currencies have fallen out of vogue in the past week after the lack of any clear winner in the Italian election reignited fears about Europe's ability to cope with sovereign debt issues, and as the US faces up to fall-out from policymakers' inability to compromise over spending cuts, tax hikes and its debt ceiling.

New Zealand's locally produced raw materials showed a seventh monthly gain last month, according to ANZ data, though the strength of the currency meant it was little changed in kiwi dollar terms.

The local currency will probably fall this week due to the heightened global uncertainty, according to five strategists surveyed by BusinessDesk.

The kiwi was little changed at 80.82 Australian cents from 80.80 cents last week ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy review tomorrow. The RBA isn't expected to cut the target cash rate, though investors will be looking for any movement away from the easing bias after capital expenditure figures last week weren't as dire as feared.

New Zealand's currency fell to 76.64 yen from 77.22 yen last week, and decline to 63.03 euro cents from 63.34 cents. It decreased to 54.59 British pence from 54.82 pence on Friday.


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