By Paul McBeth
The New Zealand dollar rose to its highest level since late November as markets continued to gauge whether last Friday's weak US employment figures will weigh on the Federal Reserve's plans to scale back its bond buying programme.
The kiwi rose as high as 83.83 US cents, its highest level since Nov. 20, trading at 83.76 cents at 8am in Wellington from 83.31 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index advanced to 78.77 from 78.41 yesterday.
Japan's yen strengthened to 102.89 per US dollar as investors digest last Friday's weak US jobs number, which showed the world's biggest economy added 74,000 jobs in December, and whether it will weigh on the Fed's plans to unwind its quantitative easing programme. New Zealand's currency was also a beneficiary, and traders will be watching local business confidence data today which is expected to show the local economy's strength.
"Some of the market still sees the effect in Friday's payrolls as potentially slowing US tapering," said Kymberly Martin, currency strategist at Bank of New Zealand in Wellington. "All that was good news for the kiwi."
BNZ's Martin said New Zealand's currency broke through a technical level during the Northern Hemisphere trading session, and can now push up to 84.10 US cents.
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion "is likely to be pretty good as well, continuing the story of strength in New Zealand," Martin said.
Other local data scheduled for release today include December's retail spending on electronic cards and Quotable Value's December property values.
The kiwi dollar was little changed at 86.23 yen at 8am in Wellington from 86.20 yen yesterday, and edged up to 92.32 Australian cents from 92.22 cents. It climbed to 61.34 euro cents from 60.92 cents yesterday, and gained to 51.19 British pence from 50.48 pence.