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NZ dollar holds gains as investors await Fed minutes, US data

Monday 18th November 2013

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The New Zealand dollar held gains in local trading after weaker US manufacturing figures on Friday weighed on the greenback, leaving investors cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve minutes to last policy meeting later this week.

The kiwi traded at 83.50 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 83.45 cents at 8am and 83.41 cents on Friday in New York. The trade-weighted index was 77.91 from 77.82 at the New York close.

The US dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of currencies, remained under pressure after manufacturing figures on Friday missed expectations. That came after Federal chair-nominee Janet Yellen said the central bank won't start tapering until the economic recovery is on a more stable footing.

Investors are awaiting the release of minutes to the October Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday in Washington as they try to glean an insight into the central bank's thinking on winding back its US$85 billion monthly asset purchases. A slew of speeches by Fed officials and the release of US inflation and retail sales figures will also be taken into account.

"Weak US data in the States on Friday has meant US dollar weakness," said Alex Hill, head of dealing at HiFX in Auckland. "The kiwi hasn't breached the top of the range, testing 83.50 US cents before coming off."

HiFX's Hill said the currency will likely trade between 81.70 US cents and 84 cents until the release of the Fed minutes and the US inflation and retail sales figures, with little on the radar before then.

A BusinessDesk survey of nine traders and strategists predicts the local currency may trade between 81.80 US cents and 85 cents this week. Five expect the currency may gain while four predict the currency to remain unchanged.

The kiwi was little changed at 88.82 Australian cents at 5pm in Wellington from 88.95 cents on Friday in New York ahead of the release of the minutes to the Reserve Bank of Australia's last policy meeting, when it kept the key rate unchanged at 2.5 percent.

The local currency traded at 83.60 yen at 5pm in Wellington from 83.55 yen last Friday, and was at 61.86 euro cents from 61.80 cents. It was little changed at 51.76 British pence from 51.68 pence on Friday in New York.

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