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NZ dollar extends decline after China lowers yuan fixing

The kiwi fell to 68.85 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington.

Jonathan Underhill
Wed, 04 May 2016

The New Zealand dollar extended its decline after China cut its yuan fixing against the US dollar by the most since its devaluation last August, sending the greenback broadly higher.

The kiwi fell to 68.85 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington, from 69.81 cents late yesterday. The local currency fell to 4.4743 yuan from 4.5172 yuan.

The People's Bank of China set the value of the yuan at 6.4943 per US dollar, down about 0.6 percent from yesterday's fixing, according to data from the Foreign Exchange Trade System. The US dollar index rose to 93.153, the highest level this week. Traders are speculating about the timing of further interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve and will be watching the private ADP employment survey overnight ahead of the key US non-farm payrolls release on Friday for clues to the pace of US economic growth.

"A very good number on Friday night would see US markets pricing in another hike sooner rather than later," said Nick Tvedt, a corporate FX dealer at NZ Forex. The kiwi "just has to go lower" given expectations for at least two rate hikes by the Fed this year and a local central bank 'that cuts at least once and maybe twice."

Still, the New Zealand dollar's decline is likely to be "a bumpy road," he said.

The kiwi briefly gained after employment figures for the first quarter suggested the labour market was in reasonable health, with a 1.2 percent gain in employment outpacing growth in the total working-age population. The jobless rate rose to 5.7 percent from 5.4 percent. Wage inflation as measured by the labour cost index remains subdued, rising at 0.4 percent in the quarter for an annual rate of 1.6 percent.

"The headline (unemployment) number was worse but everything else was pretty solid," Tvedt said.

The New Zealand dollar fell to 91.83 Australian cents from 92.26 cents yesterday when it jumped to as high as 92.94 cents after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash rate to 1.75 percent following weaker-than-expected first quarter inflation data last week. Sentiment against the kiwi was further hurt by a softer GlobalDairyTrade auction overnight, with the GDT price index falling 1.4 percent, compared with expectations for a gain, and just a 0.7 percent increase in whole milk powder prices, lagging behind expectations for a rise closer to 4 percent.

The New Zealand dollar fell to 59.95 euro cents from 60.49 cents yesterday and was little changed at 73.87 yen. It fell to 47.37 British pence from 47.54 pence. The trade-weighted index dropped to 72.89 from 73.40 yesterday.

The two-year swap rate fell 5 basis points to 2.23 percent and the 10-year swaps rose 5 basis points to 2.96 percent.


Jonathan Underhill
Wed, 04 May 2016
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NZ dollar extends decline after China lowers yuan fixing