NZ dollar heads for 1.3% weekly gain as local data fuels rate hike expectations
By Paul McBeth
Feb. 28 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar is heading for a 1.3 percent weekly gain after a string of upbeat local data heightened investors’ anticipation for future interest rate hikes.
The kiwi rose as high as 84.13 US cents, the highest since Jan. 14, trading at 83.90 cents at 5pm in Wellington from 82.79 cents at the New York close last week, and was up from 83.77 cents at 8am and 83.24 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index rose to 78.84 from 78.32 yesterday. The TWI is heading for a 1 percent weekly gain from 78.03 at the New York close last week.
A BusinessDesk survey of 11 strategists and traders on Monday predicted the local currency would trade between 81.50 US cents and 84.20 cents this week. Four expected the kiwi to decline; five picked it would stay relatively neutral, and two anticipated a gain.
The ANZ Business Outlook today showed business confidence near a 20-year high as firms anticipate strong economic growth. That followed government figures yesterday showing a surge in exports to China and a decade-high inbound migration, as well as Fonterra Cooperative Group raising its forecast payout to farmers this season. The kiwi dollar is heading for a 3.8 percent gain this month.
Traders are pricing in a 96 percent chance Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler will lift the official cash rate at the March 13 review as he looks to head off future inflation from a rapidly accelerating economy.
“Everyone believes he’s going to hike, it’s just a question of him signalling how fast future hikes will be,” said Imre Speizer, market strategist at Westpac Banking Corp in Auckland. “There’s a chance we could break above 84.30 US cents tonight, and if we do, the next level is 85.50 cents.”
Traders will be looking at US GDP and consumer confidence figures due on Friday in Washington, and Chinese manufacturing data scheduled for release over the weekend.
The kiwi extended gains against its trans-Tasman counterpart, trading at 93.72 Australian cents at 5pm in Wellington from 93.08 cents yesterday, after weaker than expected Australian capital expenditure figures yesterday fuelled concerns about the recovery in Australia’s economy.
The local currency climbed to 85.42 yen from 85.23 yen yesterday, and gained to 61.21 euro cents from 60.79 cents. It rose to 50.28 British pence from 49.90 pence yesterday.