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NZ dollar gains vs. yen as US jobs figures loom, keeping Japanese currency under pressure

The New Zealand dollar touched a new six-year high against the yen as looming US payrolls figures kept Japan's currency under pressure amid expectations an improving American labour market will spur the Federal Reserve to unwind its asset purchase programme at a faster pace.

The kiwi rose as high as 86.95 yen, trading at 86.92 yen at 5pm in Wellington from 86.37 yen yesterday. It traded at 82.82 US cents from 82.77 cents at 8am and up from 82.62 cents yesterday.

Japan's yen weakened to 104.87 per US dollar at 5pm in Wellington from 104.52 yesterday ahead of the ADP private payrolls report in the US, a precursor to official government jobs figures on Friday in Washington. The US Fed is keeping close tabs on the strength of the labour market as it weighs the pace of withdrawing its monetary stimulus. The minutes for the Fed's December policy meeting will also come out on Wednesday in Washington.

"It's a fairly quiet market - the US employment numbers this week will be the highlight," said Alex Hill, head of dealing at HiFX in Auckland. "It all depends on how the non-farm payrolls come out" for the kiwi, he said.

New Zealand realty figures today showed housing turnover Auckland in December slowed with dwindling listings, something HiFX's Hill said suggested the Reserve Bank's restrictions on low equity home lending might be having an earlier effect than anticipated.

"The RBNZ may be getting the effect that they wanted," Hill said. "We didn't expect it to show the full effect until March or April, so it will be interest to see whether that changes the interest rate outlook."

The kiwi dollar rose to 92.87 Australian cents at 5pm in Wellington from 92.50 cents yesterday, and increased to 60.84 euro cents from 60.63 cents. It gained to 50.55 British pence from 50.38 pence yesterday. The trade-weighted index advanced to 78.49 from 78.19 yesterday.

(BusinessDesk)

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