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NZ dollar eases on weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing numbers

Tuesday 30th April 2019

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The New Zealand dollar eased after weaker-than-expected manufacturing data in China signalled a risk of a further slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

The kiwi was trading at 66.62 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 66.70 at 8am. The trade-weighted index was at 72.68 points from 72.71.

China’s latest Purchasing Manager Index came in at 50.2 points instead of the 51 points expected by analysts, suggesting the economy of New Zealand’s largest trading partner may still be slowing.

“The market dipped after the Chinese data came in weaker than expected,” says Tim Kelleher, head of foreign exchange sales at ASB Bank.

Local data showing continued poor business sentiment was largely discounted because the survey period was conducted in the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attack and before the government canned a capital gains tax.

Kelleher says the market is focusing on tomorrow’s local labour force data as it tries to decide whether Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr will cut interest rates next week or not.

Economists are expecting the March-quarter unemployment rate to fall to 4.2 percent from 4.3 percent in 2018; labour costs are expected to have risen 0.5 percent in the three months.

The Reserve Bank is charged with aiming for 2 percent annual inflation and the March-quarter read came in at an annual 1.5 percent. It also strives for maximum sustainable employment, a state Orr has previously said New Zealand has already reached.

Kelleher says the market is currently pricing in a 40 percent chance of a rate cut but says investors are frustrated by what they perceive to be contradictory comments by Orr.

He was reported last week as suggesting financial markets traders might want to rethink their day jobs. “If my job is not to surprise a market participant, then I’m watching them watch me; so we’re just looking at each other - no one’s learning,” Orr was reported as saying by National Business Review.

Kelleher says such statements aren’t going down very well. “They just can’t get a read on him. The man’s too hard to play.”

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 94.55 Australian cents from 94.46, at 51.47 British pence from 51.54, at 59.54 euro cents from 59.60, at 74.28 Japanese yen from 74.45 and at 4.4885 Chinese yuan from 4.4897.

The New Zealand two-year swap rate rose to 1.6687 percent from 1.6480 yesterday while the 10-year swap rate rose to 2.2250 percent from 2.1930.


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