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NZ dollar little changed, after falling with jobs data, stronger US figures

Thursday 2nd February 2017

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The New Zealand dollar was little changed, having dropped yesterday on an unexpected rise in the jobless rate, while the US dollar benefited from stronger-than-expected jobs and manufacturing data.

The New Zealand dollar traded at 72.77 US cents as at 8:30am in Wellington from 72.62 cents. It fell from 73.31 cents before the employment report. The trade-weighted index was at 79.31 from 79.20.

The kiwi declined yesterday after government figures showed the unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in the fourth quarter against expectations of a drop to 4.8 percent. That became the focus rather than more positive measures such as the participation rate rising to a record 70.5 percent. In the US, the Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged as expected while noting improving consumer and business sentiment, and a relatively benign unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, keeping intact market expectations of rate hikes this year.

"Economic data releases have been a key driver of currencies over the past 24 hours, with NZ labour market data driving the NZD lower, and strong releases driving the USD and GBP higher," said Jason Wong, currency strategist at Bank of New Zealand, in a note. "The Fed will want to keep its options open as it looks to raise rates three times this year. The messaging of a gradual tightening pace, dependent on upcoming data, should prevail."

Helping boost the prospects for the greenback were the ISM manufacturing report for January with a reading of 56 against expectations of 55, and the ADP private sector employment figures, which showed 246,000 jobs added in January from 153,000 in December.

In New Zealand, traders will be watching for a speech by Prime Minister Bill English to a Rotary Club in Auckland at lunchtime, after he named the date for the election Sept. 23 and said the economy would be a key focus of his campaign for re-election.

The kiwi edged up to 5.0084 yuan from 4.9939 yuan and gained to 67.54 euro cents from 67.28 cents. It fell to 57.49 British pence from 57.75 pence after the UK's Markit PMI manufacturing survey read at 55.9 as expected for January. The kiwi rose to 82.37 yen from 82.18 yen.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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