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NZ Dollar Outlook: Kiwi may lack direction on dearth of data

NZ Dollar Outlook: Kiwi may lack direction amid dearth of key data releases

By Tina Morrison

Feb. 24 (BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand dollar may struggle for direction this week, reflecting a lack of key data releases.

The local currency may trade between 81.50 US cents and 84.20 cents this week, according to a BusinessDesk survey of 11 currency strategists and traders. Four expect the kiwi to decline; five expect it will remain relatively neutral, while two anticipate a gain. The New Zealand dollar recently bought 82.76 US cents from 82.80 cents at 8am.

With no major data scheduled for release this week, traders will be looking for changes in global sentiment or unexpected announcements to provide direction. The Group of 20 leading economies, whose finance ministers and central bankers met in Sydney at the weekend, said monetary policy should remain accommodative for now in many advanced economies, which traders said is unlikely to weigh on the kiwi.

“We don’t have a great deal of data this week, not just here but globally,” said OMF senior advisor Stuart Ive. “The downside is beginning to get very limited for the kiwi now.”

OMF’s Ive said the key focus for the week will be the second estimate of US fourth quarter GDP. The GDP data is expected to be revised down to a 2.5 percent pace, from a previous reading of 3.2 percent, according to Reuters.

Also in the US this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday with investors looking for signs of whether the central bank expects to stay on course in its gradual reduction of its bond-buying programme.

Earlier this month, Yellen’s semi-annual testimony to the House showed policy makers remained upbeat about the outlook for the world’s largest economy, even as harsh winter weather weighs on the pace of the recovery.

Other Fed officials scheduled to speak in the coming days include Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo who will talk to the National Association for Business Economics; Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren who will speak on the economic outlook; Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto who will talk on the history of the Fed; Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and Kansas City Fed President Esther George who will speak at the Atlanta Fed's annual banking conference and Fed Governor Jeremy Stein and Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota who will be part of a panel discussing monetary policy and financial stability.

This week the latest US housing data will be monitored closely to see if recent signs of weakness in the real estate sector can be attributed to the severe winter or more fundamental problems. The FHFA and the S&P Case Shiller home price gauges are due on Tuesday, followed by new homes sales on Wednesday, and the pending home sales index on Friday.

Other US economic data scheduled for release include the Chicago Fed national activity index, PMI’s preliminary services data, and the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey, due Monday; consumer confidence, and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index, due Tuesday; durable goods orders, and the Kansas City Fed manufacturing index, due Thursday; and Chicago PMI due Friday.

In New Zealand, credit card billings for January are scheduled for release today while the Reserve Bank survey of first quarter inflation expectations are published tomorrow. On Thursday, data on January’s overseas merchandise trade balance is expected to show exports continue to be boosted by the dairy sector, while tourist arrival figures for January will be scrutinised for signs of whether net inward migrant flows have peaked or have further to run.

On Friday, January building consent data may soften following a jump at the end of last year, the ANZ business conference survey for February will probably show continued strength, while private sector credit is likely to show mortgage growth slowed with the housing market.

In Australia, the focus will be on fourth quarter private capital spending figures on Thursday for signs of whether the economy is transitioning from mining to non-mining growth.

Elsewhere, the IFO German business confidence report tonight is expected to hold near high levels, the UK releases further detail on its fourth quarter GDP on Wednesday, and China’s purchasing managers’ index at the weekend may weaken. On Friday, Japan publishes monthly data on inflation, industrial production, retail sales and jobless numbers.


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