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NZ dollar holds near 2-week high after Chinese manufacturing figures; Fed looms

Wednesday 1st May 2013

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The New Zealand dollar held near a two-week high after Chinese manufacturing figures weren't as bad as investors may have feared, and ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy where it's expected to hold firm on its low interest rates and money printing programme.

The kiwi traded at 85.73 US cents at 5pm from 85.69 cents at 8am, and 85.63 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 78.65 from 78.77 yesterday.

China's manufacturing purchasing managers' index slipped to 50.6 last month, staying in expansion and was just below the 50.7 reading expected. Traders had got a little nervous after the unofficial flash HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 50.5 in April when it was released next week.

That left markets to wait for the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday in Washington, which may note some deteriorating economic figures without shifting its monetary policy settings.

"We're going to have to see what the Fed says," said Tim Kelleher, head of institutional FX sales NZ at ASB Institutional in Auckland. "The kiwi's going nowhere fast - it's between 83.50 US cents and 86.50 cents in the greater scheme of things."

The European Central Bank will review its benchmark rate on Thursday and is expected to cut a quarter-point to 0.5 percent in a bid to revive the regional economy. The kiwi fell to 65.11 euro cents from 65.38 cents yesterday.

The next major piece of data will be US non-farm payrolls on Friday, which will likely show the world's biggest economy added 145,000 jobs last month. Private payrolls figures showed the number of jobs rose by 150,000 in April having gained 158,000 a month earlier.

The local currency fell to 83.37 yen from 83.83 yen yesterday, and was almost unchanged at 82.69 Australian cents from 82.68 cents. It traded at 55.20 British pence at 5pm in Wellington from 55.26 pence yesterday.

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