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NZ dollar gains as US delivers stronger inflation data, weaker retail sales

Thursday 15th February 2018

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The New Zealand dollar rose as the market digested stronger-than-expected US inflation data and weaker American retail sales. The figures came after data showed a modest increase in NZ food prices while a survey showed a lift in inflation expectations.

The kiwi gained to 73.65 US cents as at 8am in Wellington from 73.31 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index increased to 75.37 from 75.10.

The New Zealand dollar initially tumbled to as low as 72.38 US cents after the US CPI data, which showed the core measure excluding food and energy was 0.3 percent in the month and 1.8 percent in the year, beating forecasts of 0.2 percent and 1.7 percent respectively. However, some economists said part of the lift was from elements that wouldn't stay strong. Other figures showed US retail sales excluding autos and fuel fell 0.2 percent last month against expectations of a 0.3 percent gain.

"US CPI data were stronger than expected, however the positive impact on the USD quickly faded," said Jason Wong, currency strategist at Bank of New Zealand, in a note. "Further pondering over the impact of the US inflation data is likely to be the key driver of markets."

The kiwi gained yesterday after the Reserve Bank's March quarter survey showed firms lifted their two-year inflation expectations to 2.11 percent from 2.02 percent in the prior period, while one-year inflation expectations remained steady at 1.86 percent. The central bank has signalled it will keep the official cash rate at a record low 1.75 percent until the latter half of next year at the earliest but does keep a close eye on the expectations as they have an impact on wage and pricing setting behaviour. 

Earlier, government figures showed the food price index gained at a 0.8 percent annual pace last month, the smallest yearly increase since April 2017. The Real Estate Institute's house sales figures for January are due out today and traders will also be keeping watch on labour market data in Australia.

The kiwi gained to 93.04 Australian cents from 92.93 cents and traded at 52.60 British pence from 52.66 pence. It traded at 59.21 euro cents from 59.16 cents and rose to 4.6709 yuan from 4.6425 yuan. The kiwi advanced to 78.79 yen from 78.34 yen.

(BusinessDesk)

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