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NZ dollar heads for 3.1% weekly slump

NZ dollar heads for 3.1% weekly slump after early market meltdown; Jackson Hole looms

By Paul McBeth

Aug. 28 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar is heading for a 3.1 percent weekly drop after a slump in Chinese equity markets spooked investors on Monday and Tuesday before petering out later in the week, and ahead of the annual get-together of central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The kiwi fell to 64.73 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 66.82 cents on Friday in New York. It was unchanged from 8am and up from 64.35 US cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index is heading for a more muted 1.7 weekly decline as other risk-sensitive currencies were hit harder by the market meltdown, and rose to 69.94 from 69.67 yesterday.

A BusinessDesk survey of 10 currency analysts predicted the local currency would trade between 64.50 US cents and 68 cents this week. Three expected the kiwi to gain, three said it would fall and four said it would stay largely unchanged.

Global markets have calmed since the start of the week when a weak gauge of Chinese manufacturing spurred sharp declines in equities across the world. That saw the Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index, known as Wall Street's fear gauge, spike to a four-year high of 40.74, and the measure has since eased back to 26.1. Investors are now looking ahead to the annual central bankers' meeting in Jackson Hole, where speeches by Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fisher and Bank of England governor Mark Carney on monetary policy and inflation will be keenly watched.

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"There's a little bit of relief heading into the end of the week for currency markets, and markets are reverting back to their pre-flash crash range," said Sam Tuck, senior FX strategist at ANZ Bank New Zealand in Auckland. "The kiwi is within cooee of 65 cents, which is not that bad when you think about the Aussie, which is currently below 72 (US cents)."

Next week will be a busy one for investors, with policy decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia and European Central Bank, a GlobalDairyTrade auction, and US employment figures.

Standard & Poor's today affirmed New Zealand's credit rating, despite tepid inflation and slowing growth seen as delaying the government's return to an operating budget surplus.

Reserve Bank data today showed the central bank was a net buyer of the kiwi in July, with net purchases of $191 million in the month. The kiwi dropped 6.1 percent against the greenback a month earlier in June, and declined 2.7 percent in July.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate slipped to 2.78 percent at 5pm in Wellington from 2.79 percent yesterday, and 10-year swaps increased to 3.59 percent from 3.57 percent.

The local currency increased to 4.1379 Chinese yuan at 5pm in Wellington from 4.1210 yuan yesterday, and fell to 90.20 Australian cents from 91.03 cents. It rose to 57.51 euro cents form 56.65 cents yesterday, and gained to 41.94 British pence from 41.53 pence. The kiwi climbed to 78.40 yen from 77.16 yen yesterday.


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