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NZ dollar treads water as US-China trade talks, Fed meeting loom

Wednesday 30th January 2019

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The New Zealand dollar was largely unchanged as investors wait for upcoming trade talks between the US and China and the Federal Reserve's first policy meeting of the year. 

The kiwi traded at 68.31 US cents as at 8am in Wellington from 68.36 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 73.81 from 73.85 yesterday. 

Investors are waiting for the outcome of several major global events, including the resumption of trade talks between the US and China. Last year's stoush between the world's two biggest economies weighed on markets around the world as investors feared increased trade barriers would slow global growth and restrain company earnings.

Announcements from heavy machinery maker Caterpillar and chip manufacturer Nvidia yesterday blamed earnings downgrades on a slowing Chinese economy, while US federal charges levelled at China's Huawei Technologies have kept tensions high.

Meanwhile, the Federal Open Market Committee will tomorrow make its first policy statement of the year, followed by a press conference by chair Jerome Powell. In December, the world's biggest central bank lowered its rate hike projections for 2019. Traders will watch for Powell's take on the latest economic data, which has shown weaker consumer confidence in the wake of the Federal government shutdown. 

"Kiwi swung in roundabouts against the USD overnight, sticking in recent higher ranges as it awaits more direction from global news," ANZ Bank New Zealand economist Liz Kendall said in a note. "Trade headlines and the FOMC meeting could see some volatility, but we expect it to stay buoyed in the meantime."

ANZ economists see support for the kiwi and 66.70 US cents and resistance at 68.70 cents. Kendall said after the local currency's recent strength, investors could be disappointed in the coming days and weeks. 

The kiwi was largely unchanged at 51.95 British pence from 51.97 pence yesterday ahead of a parliamentary vote on Brexit amendments. Prime Minister Theresa May has put forward a new proposal to scrap the Irish border arrangements and re-open negotiations with the European Union. The local currency was unchanged at 59.77 euro cents. 

The New Zealand dollar edged up to 74.74 yen from 74.65 yen yesterday and declined to 4.5982 Chinese yuan from 4.6099 yuan. It traded at 95.46 Australian cents from 95.43 cents yesterday. 


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