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NZ dollar lifts as volatility subsidies, underpinning gains on Asian stock markets

Monday 12th February 2018

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The New Zealand dollar gained with Asian equity markets as last week's volatility subsided and after upbeat domestic consumer spending data. 

The kiwi rose to 72.68 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 72.42 cents as at 8am and 72.44 cents in New York on Friday. The trade-weighted index was at 74.72 from 74.57.

Asian markets saw some semblance of calm after US stock markets rebounded late Friday, with the Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index, known as Wall Street's 'fear gauge', falling to 29 from as high as 41. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up around 0.7 percent in afternoon trading and China's Shanghai SE Composite Index was up 0.8 percent. 

"Markets have started the week on a more positive note and the kiwi - at the margin - is benefiting from that sentiment," said ANZ Bank New Zealand senior economist Phil Borkin.

The kiwi may also have gotten a lift when New Zealand retail spending on electronic cards gained in January for a fifth straight month. Seasonally adjusted total retail spending on credit and debit cards increased 1.4 percent in January from December, the biggest monthly gain since January 2017. "Retail spending continues to be supported by robust job growth, real wage expansion and a still solid housing market," said Bank of New Zealand head of Research Stephen Toplis. 

ANZ's Borkin said while the local data may have added to the positive sentiment "I don't think it's a domestic story right now and I don't think it will be for awhile." Investors are keeping a close eye on global themes and US inflation data - due Wednesday in the US - will be the main focus, he said. 

"If it's on the soft side and people start to question whether the Fed is going to tighten in March then that's a green light for equities to recover a lot of ground but if it comes on the strong side then buckle up," Borkin said. 

The kiwi rose to 92.76 Australian cents from 92.61 cents on Friday. It increased to 52.45 British pence from 52.34 pence and rose at 59.15 euro cents from 58.85 cents. The local currency increased to 4.5810 yuan from 4.5587 yuan and to 79.02 yen from 78.76 yen.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate rose 2 basis points to 2.15 percent, while 10-year swaps rose 4 points to 3.30 percent.

(BusinessDesk)

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