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NZ dollar falls, NZX suspends trading after 6.2 magnitude Wellington earthquake

Friday 16th August 2013

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The New Zealand dollar dropped almost half a US cent and the NZX suspended trading after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Wellington, almost a month after the capital city was locked down by a 6.9 magnitude quake.

The kiwi fell to 80.57 US cents at 2.45pm in Wellington from 80.98 cents and the trade-weighted index was 75.70 from 76.04. The two-year swap rate fell 6 basis points to 3.445.

The Wellington-based stock exchange operator halted trading in all markets as a result of the quake, leaving the benchmark NZX 50 index 0.4 percent at 4511.263.

The 6.2 magnitude quake was 10 kilometres south-east of Seddon and 8km deep, and was followed by a 5.7 magnitude temblor 5km south-east of Seddon and 8km deep, according to GNS Science's Geonet website.

"There's always the unknown factor when you hear earthquake news," said Alex Hill, head of dealing at HiFX in Auckland. "Markets will fear the worst initially until you start to get some visuals coming through."

The kiwi may recover toward the end of the day assuming no reports of major damage or further shakes.

Portions of Wellington was shut down for a day in July when a 6.9 magnitude quake hit the Cook Strait, damaging 35 buildings and claiming part of the CentrePort wharf.

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