NZ dollar sticks to tight range ahead of US CPI data

The New Zealand dollar was little changed, holding in a tight range in jittery markets ahead of US inflation data due later in the global trading day.

The kiwi traded at 73.12 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 72.93 US cents as at 8am in Wellington and from 73.23 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index traded at 74.01 from 75.03.

The US inflation data is in the limelight as investors try to guess the trajectory of policy tightening by the US Federal Reserve. The CPI may have slowed to 0.2 percent in February for an unchanged year-on-year rate of 1.8 percent, according to economists.

If inflation is lower than expected it will add to the view that the Fed is only likely to lift rates three times this year, rather than four. Markets had already pared back their US rate hike expectations after a slowdown in the pace of US wage growth late last week.

On the day, the US dollar has been on a "raggedy trend down," said Imre Speizer, Westpac Banking Corp market strategist. "It's weakening into that number of some fear of a disappointment," he said.

Looking ahead, he said domestic investors will then shift their focus to Thursday's domestic product data, with economists tipping the economy to have expanded 0.8 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter.

While the data is fairly historic, "it is the most important piece of economic data you can get because it is the number that wraps up the whole economy." Speizer said it is particularly important to the central bank "when it is surprised by the number."

The kiwi fell to 77.91 yen from 78.05 yen yesterday and declined to 92.85 Australian cents from 93.06 cents. It eased to 59.30 euro cents from 59.39 cents and declined to 52.60 British pence from 52.81 pence. The local currency fell to 4.6244 yuan from 4.6333 yuan.

Meanwhile, the Debt Management Office announced that $2.0 billion of 20 April 2029 nominal bonds have been issued via syndication.

The bonds, which carry a coupon of 3 percent, were issued at a spread of 16 basis points over the 15 April 2027 nominal bond, at a yield to maturity of 3.135 percent. Total book size, within the initial pricing guidance range of 16 to 19 basis points, exceeded $5 billion.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate rose 4 basis point to 2.26 percent and the 10-year swap rate was unchanged at 3.25 percent.

(BusinessDesk)