NZ dollar gains in thin trading as investors remain upbeat about local economy

The New Zealand dollar edged up against the greenback in thin holiday trading as investors remain cheered about the domestic economy.

The kiwi increased to 70.46 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 70.32 cents as at 8.30am and 70.20 cents yesterday. The currency has held above 70 US cents after getting a solid lift when historic revisions to gross domestic product data last week showed the economy had fared better than previously thought.

Figures today showed consumers remain in good heart, with electronic spending on Boxing Day up 6.4 percent this year, led by growth in department stores, appliance stores and home decorating, according to local payments company Paymark.

The kiwi traded at 91.03 Australian cents from 90.94 cents late yesterday, outperforming the Aussie that got a lift when oil prices surged a 2 1/2-year high. News of an explosion on a Libyan crude pipeline as well as voluntary OPEC-led supply cuts helped spur oil prices. The Australian dollar traded at 77.37 US cents, the highest since late October and up from about 77.25 cents early Wednesday.

"It's been very, very quiet" with the kiwi joining other currencies in sticking to a tight range in Asian trading, said Mark Johnson, a senior dealer at OMF. Any sustained move would need some sort of catalyst, which is unlikely in the short-term given the dearth of data and the holiday-shortened weeks, he said.

Monetary policy will be the main driver of currency moves in 2018, according to strategists quoted by Bloomberg. The median sees the New Zealand dollar at about 72 US cents by year-end, benefiting as emergency monetary policy settings are no longer needed. Daragh Maher, HSBC's US head of FX strategy, was even more bullish and sees it at 75 US cents as monetary policy is normalised.

The kiwi traded at 79.78 yen from 79.50 yen late yesterday, after minutes from the Bank of Japan's policy meeting showed a strong desire to maintain stimulus measures for the time being. The trade-weighted index was at 73.96 from 73.79 and rose to 4.6180 yuan from 4.5897 yuan. It was at 59.38 euro cents from 59.14 cents and traded at 52.67 British pence from 52.51 pence.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate rose 2 basis points to 2.21 percent and the 10-year swaps lifted 2 basis points to 3.17 percent.