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NZ dollar eases amid snags in US-China trade talks

Wednesday 20th March 2019

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The New Zealand dollar eased a little, dragged down as falling interest rates hurt the Australian dollar and concerns persisted about snags in trade talks between the United States and China.

The kiwi traded at 68.33 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 68.57 at 7:45am. The trade-weighted index was at 74.07 from 74.27.

The Australian dollar fell to 70.73 US cents from 70.95.

The domestic currency suffered “a bit of collateral damage from the weakness of the Australian dollar,” says Sheldon Slabbert, a trader at CMC Markets New Zealand.

New Zealand yields are now about 10 basis points higher than Australia's, he says.

Also hurting the Australian dollar were reports that China has been pushing back on US demands in talks aimed at resolving the two nation's trade differences. China is the largest trading partner of both Australia and New Zealand.

A strong Global Dairy Trade auction outcome early today, with the main index rising 1.9 percent, the eighth consecutive rise, helped cushion the New Zealand dollar’s decline, Slabbert says.

Whole milk powder - which made up the bulk of the auction and is the key price for Fonterra farmers - rose 4 percent.

Slabbert said the market is now “getting to the business end of the week,” with the Federal Reserve’s latest view on monetary conditions set to be delivered at 7am Thursday, New Zealand time, New Zealand GDP for the December quarter out at 10.45am and data on the Australian jobs market in February due at 1.30pm New Zealand time.

“That GDP number better be good or maybe the Reserve Bank will be a bit softer” when it reviews its official cash rate on March 27, Slabbert says.

In the Australian data, he’ll be looking for signs of wages growth as an indication of whether Australian homeowners are able to keep up with their mortgages amid falling house prices.

Figures out on Tuesday showed Australian house prices fell 2.4 percent in the December quarter, taking the annual decline to 5.1 percent. Sydney house prices were down 7.8 percent from a year earlier.

A warning from US-based but global freight operator FedEx that its international revenue was falling as a result of unfavourable exchange rates and the impact of trade battles on global growth didn’t help sentiment, Slabbert says.

FedEx reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter earnings and revenue and cut its full-year guidance. 

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 96.57 Australian cents from 96.69, at 51.54 British pence from 51.67, at 60.20 euro cents from 60.40, at 76.24 yen from 76.40 and at 4.5865 Chinese yuan from 4.6028. 

The two-year swap was at 1.8013 percent from 1.8148 on Tuesday; the 10-year swap was at 2.3150 percent from 2.3275.

(BusinessDesk)

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