2 mins to read

NZ dollar gains as housing, food price data hints at stronger inflation

The kiwi rose to 69.39 US cents at 5pm in Wellington.

Jonathan Underhill
Wed, 13 Apr 2016

The New Zealand dollar rose, extending its gains to a two-week high, after property sales and food price data underpinned the potential for stronger economic growth and inflation that would make further interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank less urgent.

The kiwi rose to 69.39 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, from 69.13 cents at the start of the day and up from 68.82 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index rose to 73 from 72.51 yesterday.

Real Estate Institute data yesterday showed the median national house sale price rose 4.2 percent to $495,000 in March while sales rose 8.2 percent to a nine-year high for the month of 9,527. Auckland's median price rose to a record $820,000. Government figures today showed food prices rose 0.5 percent in March, or 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted, prompting some forecasters to lift their estimate for first-quarter inflation scheduled for release next week. The flow-on effect was that traders reduced their bets for an April rate hike in favour of June.

"The housing and food price data argues away from cutting in April," said Imre Speizer, a strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. "Locally the economy is doing reasonably well - the only issue has been low inflation. It still requires another cut by RBNZ but there's not a panic to do so."

Westpac raised its forecast for the consumer price index by 10 basis points to 0.1 percent for the first quarter, for an annual increase of 0.3 percent. That's still below the central bank's latest forecasts of 0.2 percent in the quarter for an annual 0.4 percent gain. Based on the overnight interest swap curve, traders have reduced their bets on an April cut, giving it a 28 percent chance, down from 40 percent last week. The chances of a June cut are at 72 percent. The official cash rate is currently at a record low 2.25 percent.

The kiwi had already gained on stronger commodity prices and on speculation the Federal Reserve won't rush to raise interest rates in the US weighed on the greenback.

The New Zealand dollar was unchanged at 90.10 Australian cents and rose to 61.03 euro cents from 60.32 cents. It gained to 48.63 British pence from 48.31 pence, rose to 75.55 yen from 74.48 yen and reached 4.4847 yuan from 4.4502 yuan.

The two-year swap rate rose 4 basis points to 2.24 percent and 10-year swaps rose about 6 basis points to 2.99 percent.


Jonathan Underhill
Wed, 13 Apr 2016
© All content copyright NBR. Do not reproduce in any form without permission, even if you have a paid subscription.
NZ dollar gains as housing, food price data hints at stronger inflation