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NZ dollar dips as US-China trade negotiations keep investors on edge

Tuesday 12th February 2019

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The New Zealand dollar eased as investors remain focused on trade negotiations between the US and China, which have until the end of this month to avert the next round of tariffs being imposed. 

The kiwi traded at 67.29 US cents as at 8am in Wellington from 67.56 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 73.26 from 73.37. 

The US dollar index rose 0.4 percent to 97.1 as investors fret over whether a US delegation to Beijing, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, will make headway in the ongoing trade talks. The stoush between the two nations is expected to slow global growth, and would weigh more heavily on nations with open trading economies, such as New Zealand and Australia. 

Investors are also concerned US policymakers will remain deadlocked over approving the Federal government budget, with the Democrat-led Congress opposed to funding President Donald Trump's planned wall on the Mexican border. 

"Market confidence continues to be tempered by pessimism on whether an agreement will be reached between Democrats and Republicans before Friday to avert another US government shutdown, and between the US and China on trade before heavier tariffs are due to kick in at the end of the month," ANZ Bank New Zealand economists Sharon Zollner and Sandeep Parekh said in a note. 

The New Zealand Reserve Bank's monetary policy statement tomorrow is also in view, with traders placing more bets that the benchmark rate will be cut in the coming year. The central bank's survey of expectations is due to be released this afternoon. 

"Despite some optimism around US-China trade, the market keeps its focus on the upcoming RBNZ MPS," Zollner and Parekh said. "Expectations of a dovish statement will cap the kiwi for now."

ANZ economists see support for the kiwi at 67.10 US cents and resistance at 68.30 cents. 

Statistics New Zealand will release January electronic card spending this morning. Retailers' experience of consumer spending through the Christmas and New Year period has been mixed. 

The local currency traded at 52.31 British pence from 52.26 pence yesterday after Britain's economy grew 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, missing expectations. It was at 59.70 euro cents from 59.67 cents yesterday.

The kiwi traded at 95.30 Australian cents from 92.25 cents. It fell to 4.5688 Chinese yuan from 4.5775 yuan yesterday and was almost unchanged at 74.31 yen from 74.30 yen. 


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