By Rebecca Howard
May 21 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar was steady ahead of speeches by US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell and Australia's central bank governor Philip Lowe.
The kiwi was trading at 94.50 Australian cents at 8am in Wellington versus 94.44 late yesterday. It was at 65.32 US cents versus 65.37.
"Amidst the global growth slowdown and trade tensions, financial markets have been fixated on central bank stimulus," said ANZ FX/rates strategist Sandeep Parekh. "Immediate attention is focusing on Fed Chair Powell’s speech overnight to see if he will give any colour on the FOMC’s assessment of recent trade developments."
Powell is speaking at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's 24th annual financial markets conference in Fernandina Beach, Florida at around 11 am New Zealand time.
In Australia, the RBA minutes and governor Philip Lowe's speech will be closely scrutinised for clues on whether the RBA might ease rates in the near term. He is due to speak on the economic outlook and monetary policy at around 3:10pm New Zealand time.
"The RBA’s minutes and subsequent speech from Governor Lowe are seen as critical for the markets pricing (if reduced) of a June rate cut," said Westpac Bank.
With little on New Zealand's data calendar, the kiwi will continue to be pushed around by events offshore. The overnight Global Dairy Trade auction poses some risk with several economists expecting whole milk powder prices to fall about 2 percent versus the prior auction.
The trade-weighted index was at 72.08 from 72.12. The kiwi was trading at 51.31 British pence from 51.32, at 58.46 euro cents from 58.59 and at 71.87 yen from 72.03. It was at 4.5143 Chinese yuan from 4.5484.