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NZ dollar stays high as US employment data comes into focus

NZ dollar stays high as US employment, local confidence comes into focus

By Paul McBeth

March 31 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar stuck close to its recent two-and-a-half year high against the greenback as investors shift their focus to a series US employment figures this week, and ahead of a local business confidence survey today.

The kiwi was little changed at 86.56 US cents at 8am from 86.58 cents at the close of trading in New York on Friday, down from 86.85 cents at 5pm in in Wellington last week. The trade-weighted index edged down to 80.84 from 80.94 last week in Wellington.

Traders will be looking for further evidence the world’s biggest economy is on the path to recovery this week with jobs figures culminating in the Federal government’s non-farms payrolls report on Friday in Washington. Harsh winter conditions through the end of 2013 and start of this year stifled production, and investors are hoping to see some improvement, which will spur the Federal Reserve to shift away from its ultra-loose monetary policy.

“We would not expect NZ data to change the picture of overall domestic strength and all eyes will be on US and global activity data culminating in US payrolls Friday,” ANZ Bank New Zealand senior economist Mark Smith and senior FX strategist Sam Tuck said in a note. “With no compulsion on inflation grounds to normalise policy settings in Europe or the US, the NZ economy is likely to continue to stand out like a sore thumb. Those wanting a lower NZD may have to wait a while yet.”

ANZ said the local currency may trade 86.20 US cents and 87.20 cents today.

Locally, the ANZ Business Outlook is expected to show more optimism among the local corporate community, though it may ease from the 20-year high it reached in February. Government data is expected to show building permits rose in February.

The kiwi was little changed at 93.63 Australian cents at 8am from 93.57 cents at 5pm in Wellington last week, ahead of tomorrow’s Reserve Bank of Australia monetary policy meeting. The central bank’s board is expected to keep the key rate unchanged at 2.5 percent, though traders have priced in a 2 percent chance of a cut, based on the Overnight Index Swap curve.

The local currency rose as high as 89.20 yen, this highest since July 2007, trading at 89.01 yen at 8am in Wellington from 88.70 yen last week. It fell to 62.88 euro cents from 63.17 cents last week, and declined to 51.95 British pence from 52.25 pence.


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