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NZ dollar falls as investors prepare for slowdown in local growth

Monday 19th March 2012

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The New Zealand dollar fell as investors gear up for a heavy week of local data which will probably show economic growth slowed in the last three months of 2011.

The New Zealand dollar fell to 82.19 US cents at 8am from 82.40 cents at the close of trading in New York on Friday. The trade-weighted index was little-changed on 73.37 from 73.40.

The New Zealand economy probably slowed in the final three months of 2011 as a drop in manufacturing offset strong farming outputs and improving retail trade and construction sectors. A Reuters survey of 11 economists predicts gross domestic product grew 0.6 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31, slowing from a pace of 0.8 percent growth in the September quarter.

The data is due for release on Thursday, and will come a day after fourth-quarter balance of payments, which is tipped to show the current account deficit shrank to 4 percent of GDP.

“A risk-on landscape should continue to provide support for the New Zealand dollar to start off the trading week,” said Alex Sinton, senior currency dealer at ANZ New Zealand. “More serious local economic data should also assist in providing further support on dips.”

The kiwi fell to 77.65 Australian cents from 77.74 cents as the Reserve Bank of Australia prepares to release the minutes from its March meeting on Tuesday. Australia’s central bank held the target cash rate at 4.25 percent saying growth will be close to trend and inflation close to its target two to three percent range.

It promised to cut rates “should demand conditions weaken materially.” Governor Glenn Stevens has already said underlying headline consumer price inflation will fall further over the next quarter or so.

“Tomorrow’s RBA meeting minutes should again put into the frame a possible cut - ensuring this cross may well look at resistance at 78.30 (Australian cents) mark at some point this week,” Sinton said.

China’s house prices had their worst performance in a year in February, according to government figures. Prices fell in 45 cities last month as compared with January, while 22 cities were unchanged, the National Statistics Bureau said in a statement. New home prices in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou dropped for a fifth month.

It is a data heavy week in New Zealand with the Westpac Consumer Confidence survey, Bank of New Zealand Business NZ Performance of Services Index and the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand’s rural sales for February all set for release today.

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s online auction on Tuesday in the US will be in for greater scrutiny after the dairy exporter cut its forecast payout to farmers earlier this month.

The New Zealand dollar fell to 62.39 euro cents from 62.55 cents at the close of trading in New York. It declined to 51.89 British pence from 52 pence. The kiwi fell to 68.55 yen from 68.74 yen last week.

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