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Kiwi muted after building data

Tuesday 8th March 2011

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The New Zealand dollar ended the day pretty much where it ended yesterday, having recovered from a fresh 18-1/2-year low against the Australian currency overnight.

By 5pm, the kiwi was at US73.75c, unchanged from late yesterday afternoon and marginally stronger than US73.64c this morning.

Against the Australian dollar, the kiwi was at A72.87c, a touch above the same time yesterday and little changed from A72.89c this morning. Around 4am, the kiwi had dropped to around A72.42c. It has been in sharp decline against the aussie since late January, with New Zealand interest rates tipped to fall and Australia's central bank expected by some to raise rates later this year.

Market reaction was muted to building work figures released today, ahead of the Reserve Bank's interest rate decision on Thursday and with the Christchurch earthquake two weeks ago making the figures more than a little historical.

The seasonally adjusted volume of building activity rose 1.1% in the three months to the end of December, including a 10.6% rise in non-residential building work and a 7.1% fall in residential work.

While the data did not necessarily change forecasts of a 0.2% increase in GDP in the fourth quarter, ANZ economists said negative GDP for the quarter remained possible, which would mean a technical recession since the second half of 2010.

The kiwi was steady against the euro and yen, at 0.5275 euro and 60.67 yen, but stronger against sterling, at 45.51p from 45.38p yesterday.

The trade weighted index was unchanged at 65.01.

The euro gave up a little ground having hit a four-month high around US$1.4036 overnight, as investors boosted the US dollar and booked profits.

The euro had benefited from prospects of a European Central Bank interest rate rise in the near future, but the focus returned to worries about European sovereign debt after Moody's slashed Greece's debt rating by three notches. The ratings agency also kept Greek debt on review for a further possible downgrade.



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