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NZ dollar falls as Fed rate-hike message digested, non-farm payrolls awaited

Monday 29th August 2016

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The New Zealand dollar fell after the top two Federal Reserve officials gave an upbeat message about the outlook for US interest rates this year, increasing the focus on upcoming data such as non-farm payrolls.

The kiwi traded at 72.39 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington, from 73.26 cents in New York on Friday before  Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen and vice chairman Stanley Fischer spoke. The trade-weighted index fell to 77.14 from 77.54.

Yellen's speech at the Jackson Hole central bankers retreat was the most anticipated event of the past week and she used it to say the case for an increase in the federal funds rate "has strengthened in recent months", without giving details. That was followed by a Fischer interview with CNBC in which he said that Yellen's view was consistent with two hikes this year, with the first as soon as September, depending on how economic data plays out.

"Fischer is the second in command for the Fed so you would've thought there's a deliberate message being sent," said Martin Rudings, a senior dealer at Wellington-based OMF. The market is currently pricing a 42 percent chance of a September hike and a 64 percent chance of a move in December but if non-farm payrolls are strong "then September will need to get repriced a little bit I would have thought," he said.

Rudings said over the past month or so there has been a lot of talk about a new peak for the fed funds rate that's a lot lower than previously thought, perhaps averaging around 3 percent and meaning the central bank has plenty of time to move. He said the kiwi dollar may trade in a range of 70 US cents to 73 cents "and should head down toward the bottom of the band" provided the US labour data is as strong as expected.

The US economy probably stacked on 180,000 jobs in August, based on a Reuters forecast. Ahead of the US data, New Zealand building consents for July are due out tomorrow and the ANZ Business Outlook, a business confidence survey, is due for release on Wednesday

The kiwi rose to 95.86 Australian cents from 95.60 cents on Friday and fell to 4.8302 yuan from 4.8856 yuan. It declined to 64.62 euro cents from 64.87 cents and fell to 55.15 British pence from 55.48 pence. The kiwi rose to 74 yen from 73.67 yen.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate rose 3 basis points to 1.96 percent and 10-year swaps rose 5 basis points to 2.41 percent.

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