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NZ dollar little changed at about 70 US cents as surge in US bond yields saps kiwi's appeal

Monday 21st November 2016

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The New Zealand dollar was little changed at about 70 US cents and is poised to extend its 5.2 percent decline of the past two weeks as surging US bond yields sap the appeal of returns from the kiwi.

The local currency traded at 69.99 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 70.09 cents in late New York trading on Friday. The trade-weighted index was at 77.29 from 77.23. 

The US dollar climbed to the highest level in about six months against the yen today, while the yield on the benchmark US 10-year Treasury bond has surged to a 12 month high amid expectations Donald Trump's US presidential victory will help stoke economic growth and inflation in the US, with an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve next month seen almost as a certainty. The greenback has strengthened in the wake of Trump's win after he vowed to embark on a massive infrastructure spending programme and slash corporate taxes.

The trend of a stronger US dollar "is still very much intact," said Sheldon Slabbert, a sales trader at CMC Markets. "Looking at the kiwi dollar, it is still under pressure as US yields are increasing."

Investors are awaiting the release this week of the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting in a week shortened in the US by the Thanksgiving holiday, which will see its markets closed on Thursday.

A Fed rate hike "is pretty much locked in for December and the question is when the next hike is," Slabbert said. It was possible the surge in the greenback and US bond yields may "pause" and equity markets are "maybe getting a little ahead of themselves" after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index reached a record high.  

While Trump is likely to have an easier path with legislative changes than Barack Obama, given Republicans control both the Senate and the Congress, "it may not be as plain sailing as we think at this stage," Slabbert said. Still, some stimulus will come from less contentious issues such as simplifying the tax returns for small businesses.

The kiwi didn't move much after Statistics New Zealand released figures showing retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30, slowing from a 2.2 percent rise in the June quarter. Separately it put out producer prices which showed both input and output prices rose on the back of the recovery in dairy.

The kiwi was little changed at 77.71 yen from 77.70 yen on Friday in New York and traded at 4.8272 yuan from 4.8266 yuan. It traded at 56.71 British pence from 56.73 pence and fell to 66.03 euro cents from 66.16 cents. The kiwi traded at 95.59 Australian cents from 95.50 cents.

The 2-year swap rate ended the day at 2.21 percent and the 10-year swap rate at 3.22 percent.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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