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NZ dollar falls vs yen as trade war threat revives, little changed vs greenback

Monday 9th April 2018

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The New Zealand dollar fell against a broadly stronger yen, amid renewed tough talk on trade between the US and China which sapped risk appetite and boosted the appeal of so-called safe haven currencies.


The kiwi dollar declined to 77.71 yen as at 8am in Wellington, little changed from New York on Friday and down from 77.91 yen in Asia at the end of last week. The kiwi traded at 72.68 US cents from 72.62 cents in New York. The trade-weighted index rose to 74.82 from 74.75.


US President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that he expects China to remove trade barriers "because it is the right thing to do" and said he would remain friends with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That followed a tweet on Friday that the US could impose an additional US$100 billion of tariffs on China. Last week the two countries traded threats, with China warning that increased tariffs imposed by the US would result in "a fierce counter-strike."


Trade took the focus away from US economic data on Friday, which included an undershoot in March non-farm payrolls of 103,000 compared with expectations for a 185,000 gain.


"Headlines on the growing trade tensions overshadowed the key US employment report, which showed weaker-than-expected employment growth after the previous month’s bumper result," said Jason Wong, currency strategist at Bank of New Zealand, in a note. "This US-China trade spat isn’t likely to go away in a hurry so markets will be keeping one eye on their Twitter accounts."


The New Zealand dollar was little changed at 59.18 euro cents after German industrial production figures for February printed at -1.6 percent versus expectations of 0.2 percent.


"Weaker German growth momentum had minimal impact on EUR with safe-haven flows possibly finding a home in Europe," said Sharon Zollner, chief economist at ANZ Bank New Zealand, in a note.


Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said in a speech that US growth was strong enough to justify interest rate hikes, although market participants noted that he made no mention of financial markets and Zollner said the tone was "slightly on the dovish side."


The kiwi traded at 94.65 Australian cents from 94.60 cents in the US on Friday and was little changed at 4.5821 yuan. The New Zealand dollar traded at 51.59 British pence from 51.52 pence. 



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