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NZ dollar falls vs greenback, Aussie as investors seek clues over diverging rate tracks

Tuesday 20th February 2018

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The New Zealand dollar fell against the greenback and Australian dollar as investors unpick central bank meeting minutes for clues over increasingly divergent interest rate tracks. 

The kiwi declined to 73.56 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from  73.71 cents as at 8am in Wellington and 73.98 cents late yesterday. The New Zealand dollar fell to 92.98 Australian cents from 93.27 cents yesterday. 

New Zealand's Reserve Bank has stuck to its outlook that the official cash rate is unlikely to move until the latter half of next year, putting it out of step with other central banks that are either moving towards a tightening cycle or edging away from their neutral bias. The release of minutes to the US Federal Reserve's last policy meeting will be watched for any clues about the outlook, with the Federal Open Market Committee saying it "expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant further gradual increases in the federal funds rate" although the "federal  funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run." 

Meantime, minutes to the latest Reserve Bank of Australia meeting offered a very similar message that it's not going to move rates any time soon. The yield on 10-year US Treasuries was recently at 2.91 percent, while the yield on Australia's 10-year government bond was 2.9 percent and New Zealand's 10-year note was 3.01 percent. 

The RBA is "still waiting for inflation and wage growth to pick up," ANZ Bank New Zealand senior economist Phil Borkin said. Against that backdrop, investors will be keeping a close eye on Aussie wage cost index data tomorrow. 

The overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction will also garner some interest. Borkin said ANZ is expecting prices to be flat to slightly lower but "nothing dramatic" and will add to confidence Fonterra Cooperative Group can meet its forecast milk payout of $6.40 per kilogram of milk solids. 

Reserve Bank acting governor Grant Spencer will make his last appearance before select committee tomorrow in the central bank's annual review. Immediately before him, incoming governor Adrian Orr will update legislators in his final review as chief executive of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. 

The kiwi fell to 59.38 euro cents from 59.55 cents and traded at 52.62 British pence from 52.67 pence. It fell to 4.6676 yuan from 4.6925 yuan and declined to 78.52 yen from 78.65 yen. The trade-weighted index dropped to 75.31 from 75.60 yesterday. 

New Zealand's two-year swap rate rose 1 basis point to 2.17 percent, while 10-year swaps were unchanged at 3.26 percent.


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