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NZ dollar falls vs yen as investors seek safe havens ahead of Trump's China tariff decision

Friday 7th September 2018

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The New Zealand dollar fell against the yen as investors flocked to the relative safety of Japan's currency ahead of US President Donald Trump's decision on whether to impose tariffs on another US$200 billion of Chinese imports. 

The kiwi fell to 73.01 yen as at 8am in Wellington from 73.32 yen yesterday. It was largely unchanged at 65.88 US cents from 65.84 cents. 

Japan's yen and the Swiss franc both strengthened 0.7 percent as investors sought out safe-haven assets ahead of Trump's decision on whether to extend tariffs on Chinese products. The White House is expected to proceed with the increased protections, with data this week showing the US trade deficit with China widened in July. The US-China trade war has weighed on currencies of exporting nations such as New Zealand. Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr is set to deliver a speech this morning on geopolitics.

Trump "is widely expected to go ahead with additional tariffs, but the devil will be in the detail, such as phasing, and whether he then threatens (again) tariffs on the full US$500-plus billion of Chinese imports," Bank of New Zealand senior markets strategist Jason Wong said in a note. "Against that backdrop, the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc are the best performing currencies."

Local data today include second quarter wholesale trade, which will feed into economists' forecasts for gross domestic product. After that, investors will look ahead to US employment data, which will likely show strong employment growth. 

The kiwi slipped to 91.49 Australian cents from 91.78 cents yesterday after Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia joined Westpac in raising variable mortgage rates across the Tasman. The Reserve Bank of Australia kept the target cash rate at 1.5 percent on Tuesday, noting that mortgage rates were still lower than a year earlier.

The local currency traded at 4.5004 Chinese yuan from 4.5015 yuan yesterday and was little changed at 50.93 British pence from 50.99 pence. It edged up to 56.68 euro cents from 56.60 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 71.53 from 71.59. 


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