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NZ dollar climbs to 2-week high after tepid US wages growth

NZ dollar climbs to 2-week high after tepid US wages growth

By Rebecca Howard

March 12 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar rose to a two-week high against the greenback, joining a rally across Asian equity markets, after a slowdown in the pace of US wage growth led investors to pare back US rate hike expectations.

The kiwi climbed as high as 73.23 US cents and traded at 73.18 cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 72.89 cents at 8am and 72.80 cents on Friday in New York. The trade-weighted index advanced to 75.03 from 74.70 last week.

Government figures last Friday showed US average hourly earnings rose at a slower annual pace than anticipated of 2.6 percent, tempering expectations the Federal Reserve might project four hikes for this year rather than three at next week's policy meeting. The news saw Asian markets track Wall Street higher and weighed further on the greenback.

"The US dollar faded on Friday ... it didn't have the wheels to continue" given the labour market data and the move has continued today, said Sheldon Slabbert, a trader at CMC Markets.

The kiwi has been "remarkably resilient", although that's largely due to a weaker greenback and this week's fourth-quarter gross domestic product data - due Thursday - "will be the acid test to see if we (the kiwi) can continue" to gain, Slabbert said.

GDP is forecast to have expanded 0.8 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31 and 3.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the median in a Bloomberg poll of 12 economists. The Reserve Bank projects quarterly growth of 0.7 in the fourth quarter.

The kiwi may have also benefited as some trade-war fears abated after US President Donald Trump offered exemptions to Canada, Mexico and Australia on planned steel and aluminium tariffs. A spokesman for Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said New Zealand has formally sought an exemption from the tariffs, and while the details are still to be clarified, New Zealand may fall within the flexibility offered to close security partners. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also said ministers are working to get an exemption for New Zealand.

The kiwi rose to 78.05 yen from 77.70 yen on Friday in New York and traded at 93.06 Australian cents form 92.64 cents. It lifted to 59.39 euro cents from 59.10 cents last week and increased to 52.81 British pence form 52.52 pence. The local currency gained to 4.6333 Chinese yuan from 4.6052 yuan last week.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate rose 3 basis point to 2.22 percent, and 10-year swap rate rose 4 basis points to 3.25 percent.

(BusinessDesk)

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