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The New Zealand dollar weakened after positive US data boosted confidence about a revival in the world's largest economy, reinforcing expectations the Federal Reserve will continue to pull back its stimulus this year.
The kiwi fell to 85.59 US cents at 8am in Wellington from 85.65 cents at 5pm yesterday and 86.17 cents at 5pm on Thursday. New Zealand markets were closed on Friday and Monday for the Easter public holiday although US markets were open yesterday. The trade-weighted index slipped to 79.66 from 79.98 on Thursday.
The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, advanced over the Easter period and early this morning touched a two-week high as leading US economic indicators backed up speculation the Fed will continue to remove stimulus this year. Traders were buoyed by better-than-expected US jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index which jumped to a seven-month high in April.
"Markets took these outturns as further signs that the US economy is pulling itself out of the weather-related doldrums," Bank of New Zealand currency strategist Raiko Shareef said in a note.
The US dollar also found support after Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine agreed to disarm all armed groups, an amnesty for most of those recently detailed and the vacating of occupied streets, Shareef said. Even so, both sides are already accusing the other of violating the terms of the agreement, he said.
Today, the focus will be on US existing home sales, the Richmond Fed manufacturing index and euro-zone consumer confidence. Traders will also keep an eye on developments in Ukraine.
For this week, the focus in New Zealand is the Reserve Bank's decision on interest rates Thursday. All 15 economists in a Reuters survey expect the central bank will lift the official cash rate a quarter point to 3 percent.
The New Zealand dollar is likely to remain in its 85 US cent to 87 cent range it has been in since the central bank first started hiking rates on March 13, ANZ Bank said in a note.
In Australia, the Conference Board Leading Index for February is scheduled for publication at midday. The New Zealand dollar slipped to 91.76 Australian cents at 8am from 92.07 cents at 5pm on Thursday.
The kiwi edged lower to 87.83 yen from 87.89 cents on Thursday, dropped to 50.97 British pence from 51.20 pence and weakened to 62.06 euro cents from 62.27 cents.