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NZ dollar trades near 2019 low on Aussie rate outlook, China worries

Wednesday 22nd May 2019

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The New Zealand dollar was little changed as investors bet on an Australian rate cut in June, continue to fret about the United States-China trade war and as elections for the European Parliament get underway in 28 countries.

The kiwi was trading at 64.97 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, just above the day’s low at 64.95, and down from 65.05 at 7:45am. The trade-weighted index fell to 71.81 points from 71.85.

Derek Rankin of Rankin Treasury Services says the domestic currency is at its lowest level this year and not far above the 64.20 US cent low in October last year.

The New Zealand dollar has traded an average range of almost 17 percentage points a year for the past 28 years and 13.6 points last year. If you assume that we’ve already seen the high at 69.69 US cents for the year, then the currency is likely to fall further, Rankin says.

If it traded the same range as last year, that would mean it could fall to 60 US cents. But if it trades an average range, that would see it at 58 cents, he says.

With a June rate cut likely in Australia in June and July tax cuts worth as much as A$1,080 for people earning up to A$90,000 a year, Rankin says he favours the Australian economy over New Zealand’s and that the kiwi “looks soft.”

Although the Australian dollar has been falling, Rankin says prices of its key commodity exports have been going in the opposite direction. Iron ore, for example, is trading at US$105 a tonne compared to US$67 back in mid-November.

Despite the worries that the trade war will hurt the Chinese economy, the Chinese are still buying iron ore.

“By definition, Australian minerals exporters are very happy” and the Australian government’s tax take will also be rising, he says.

“Basically, I think the New Zealand dollar is going to under-perform the Australian dollar,” Rankin says.

Earlier today, local March-quarter retail sales came in about as expected and the market barely reacted. Sales volumes were up a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent compared with 1.7 percent in the December quarter.

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 94.45 Australian cents from 94.48, at 51.10 British pence from 51.21, at 58.22 euro cents from 58.28, at 71.74 yen from 71.92 and at 4.4913 Chinese yuan from 4.4889.

The New Zealand two-year swap rate fell to 1.5239 percent from 1.5397 yesterday, while the 10-year swap rate eased to 2.0355 percent from 2.0550.

(BusinessDesk)

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