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NZ dollar little changed; buoyed by consumer confidence, China data

Friday 1st March 2019

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The New Zealand dollar was little changed after trading a tight range with mild but temporary boosts from strong consumer sentiment domestically and a better than expected indicator of Chinese manufacturing activity negated by a rising US dollar.

The kiwi was trading at 68.09 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 68.07 at 8am while the trade-weighted index was at 73.71 points from 73.63.

It looks as if the currency will finish down a little for the week – it ended at 68.43 cents in New York last Friday.

“We certainly saw volatility but we’re talking a 20 point range,” says Mike Shirley, senior dealer at Kiwibank. The currency traded between about 68-68.20 US cents all day.

The US dollar benefitted from stronger than expected GDP data, helping to cap the kiwi. It showed the US economy grew at an annualised 2.6 percent pace in the December quarter compared with economists’ expectations of 2.3 percent.

It’s still short of President Donald Trump’s 3 percent target and comes despite his US$1.5 trillion in tax cuts and increased government spending.

The ANZ Roy Morgan consumer confidence index eased 0.9 of a point to 120.8, holding near its long-term average. The current conditions index rose 2 points to 126.2 while the future conditions index fell 2.8 points to 117.3, suggesting consumers are growing warier about the future.

In China, New Zealand’s largest trading partner, the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 49.9 points for February, just below the level that indicates expansion.

While activity shrank for a third straight month, that reading was better than January’s reading of 48.3 and above economists’ forecast of 48.5.

It was also better than the official PMI data for China released yesterday that fell to a three-year low at 49.2 points.

The Caixin PMI is a private survey focused on smaller businesses which is closely watched as an alternative to the official PMI.

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 95.97 Australian cents from 95.93, at 51.36 British pence from 51.30, at 59.88 euro cents from 59.82, at 76.03 yen from 75.77 and 4.5613 Chinese yuan from 4.5534.

The two-year swap rate is at 1.8476 percent from 1.8025 on Thursday and the 10-year swap rate is at 2.4775 percent from 2.4000.


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