NZ dollar outlook: Kiwi may fall as investors ponder NZ's strength

The New Zealand dollar, trading near a three-week low, may fall further amid concerns last week's jobs data shows the domestic economy is struggling, putting the focus on upcoming figures which include retail sales this week.

The kiwi recently traded at 81.45 US cents, down from 81.67 cents in late New York trading on Friday. Traders say 81 cents is the next key support and is a level it has not broken below since September 11.

Five of six traders and strategists in a BusinessDesk survey say the kiwi may weaken this week.

As at its September monetary policy statement, the Reserve Bank had economic growth of 0.4% pencilled in for the third quarter after growth in the second quarter beat its estimate at 0.6%.

But figures last week showed unemployment climbed to a 13-year high of 7.3%, stoking concern the economy has lost pace. Retail sales for the third quarter, due on Wednesday, are expected to have risen 0.5%, down from the second quarter's 1.3% pace.

"After the employment data last week, nothing is going to look positive enough," says Alex Sinton, senior dealer at ANZ New Zealand. "There's further downside for the kiwi."

Retail sales are followed by the NZ Performance of Manufacturing Index on Thursday which ANZ forecasts remained below 50 in October, meaning the sector was still in contraction.

Third-quarter gross domestic product isn't released until December 20 and the Reserve Bank will have updated its forecasts before then with the next MPS on December 6.

Markets are pricing in a 22% chance of a cut to the official cash rate at the central bank's next meeting, based on the Overnight Interest Swap curve.

"There's going to be underlying scepticism about how well the New Zealand economy is performing," says Dan Bell, strategist at HiFX. "Overall, it continues to look like [third quarter growth] was pretty average."

He doubts governor Graeme Wheeler will move on interest rates on December 6.

Traders took some heart over the weekend at figures showing China's export growth accelerated in October while its trade surplus grew to a four-year high $US32 billion.

But import data was less impressive, raising questions about continued demand for goods from Australia and New Zealand, which count China as biggest and second-biggest export market, respectively.

This week also heralds the change to Chinese leadership as the Communist Party meets to decide the make-up of its central committee.

In the US, the Federal Open Market Committee minutes are released on Wednesday but the biggest theme from the world's largest economy will be whether Washington can find a way to agree on dealing with the "fiscal cliff", which if left untended will see fiscal spending slashed and the economy likely heading back into recession.

"There's some talk a fiscal cliff deal can be done," Mr Sinton says. "It's all about implementation. Politicians can say an awful lot."

Last year the kiwi sold off after Republicans in Congress held off on agreeing to lift the debt ceiling to ensure federal services could still be paid for. America's credit rating was cut by Standard & Poor's.

Ironically, the greenback tends to rise in the face of US economic woes, which drive investors towards the world's reserve currency and US Treasuries.

In Europe, Greek politicians will vote today on the country's 2013 budget, which includes more austerity measures, though it may be several more weeks until Greece's international lenders transfer fresh bailout funds.

EU finance ministers await a report on the country's compliance with bailout terms.

Globally this week "is looking like more of a risk-off scenario, but not intense", says Derek Rankin, of Rankin Treasury Advisory.

He is expecting buying interest from Europeans in both the kiwi and Australian dollars as investors seek the relative stability and higher yields on offer down under.

The kiwi last traded at 64.03 euro cents from 64.06 cents on Friday in New York. It has been in a range of about 62.20 euro cents to 65 cents since late August.

(BusinessDesk)

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NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7878 -0.0004 -0.05%
AUD 0.9091 0.0005 0.06%
EUR 0.6356 -0.0003 -0.05%
GBP 0.5032 0.0001 0.02%
HKD 6.1123 -0.0013 -0.02%
JPY 92.8410 0.0020 0.00%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1201.1 7.690 2014-11-21T00:
Oil Brent 78.6 -0.120 2014-11-21T00:
Oil Nymex 76.5 0.710 2014-11-21T00:
Silver Index 16.4 0.260 2014-11-21T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5526.9 5526.9 5526.9 -0.56%
NASDAQ 4751.0 4751.6 4701.9 0.24%
DAX 9521.2 9736.1 9484.0 2.62%
DJI 17721.0 17894.8 17719.0 0.51%
FTSE 6678.9 6773.1 6678.9 1.08%
HKSE 23353.7 23508.0 23349.6 0.37%
NI225 17285.7 17381.6 17300.9 0.33%