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NZ dollar rises as traders look ahead to US election, key data

Monday 31st October 2016

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The New Zealand dollar gained as traders pondered the risks associated with the US election next week and awaited key data including employment, the survey of expectations and US non-farm payrolls.

The kiwi traded at 71.51 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington after reaching as high as 71.67 cents in late New York trading and from 71.36 cents in Asia at the end of last week. The trade-weighted index was little changed at 77.07.

The greenback weakened on Friday after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was investigating more emails as part of a probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email system, potentially denting her US presidential race. Traders said in the less likely scenario of a Donald Trump win, the US dollar could gain, as global risk aversion falls.

"Even if the least likely scenario is to happen - Hillary blows it - then we would have to expect risk aversion and the US dollar would see safe-haven flows," said Nick Tvedt, senior corporate FX dealer at NZForex. 

Still, "once you cut through the media hype there's no reason to think it should not be broadly business as usual for markets irrespective of which candidate wins," he said. The kiwi has been caught in a range of 70.50 US cents to 72.50 cents in the past few weeks and may run into "reasonably stiff selling pressure above 72 cents," he said.

Labour market data on Wednesday is expected to show the jobless rate fell to 5 percent in the third quarter from 5.1 percent, while employment growth slowed to 0.8 percent, according to UBS. Labour costs probably remained subdued. The Reserve Bank will also be considering its latest quarterly survey of expectations, which will show the extent to which low inflation expectations are becoming entrenched.

The odds of the RBNZ cutting the official cash rate to 1.75 percent at its Nov. 10 monetary policy statement are 80-85 percent, based on interest rate swaps.

"It would take quite something to turn that around," Tvedt said.

US labour market data rounds out the week, with economists polled by Reuters seeing a rise in nonfarm payrolls to 175,000 in October, from 156,000 the previous month.

The kiwi traded at 58.68 British pence from 58.74 pence in New York on Friday. It slipped to 4.8415 yuan from 4.8516 yuan and edged up to 65.20 euro cents from 65.14 cents. The kiwi fell to 93.99 Australian cents from 94.15 cents, with no change expected from the Reserve Bank of Australia tomorrow, and it traded at 74.97 yen from 74.96 yen last week. 

New Zealand's two-year swap rate fell 2 basis points to 2.09 percent while the 10-year swaps fell 3 basis points to 2.78 percent.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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