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New Zealand dollar starts week lower, European crisis still a pre-occupation

Monday 10th October 2011

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The New Zealand dollar started the week below 77 U.S. cents after a strong jobs report in the United States was eclipsed by more sovereign credit downgrades in Europe.

The kiwi dollar eased to 76.70 U.S. cents at 8am from 77.31 U.S. cents at 5pm on Friday.

"Strong U.S. non-farm payrolls kicked us all the way to just below 78 U.S. dollars during the weekend but then Fitch downgraded Italy and Spain and that took us back down," said Mike Burrowes, market strategist at Bank of New Zealand.

As the new trading week kicked off, analysts were waiting for further commentary from a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy over the region’s ongoing debt woes.

Merkel's initial comment was that European leaders would do everything necessary to ensure banks have adequate capital.

Burrowes said the leaders were indicating that there would be more to say after a Group of 20 summit on Nov. 3, but that may be too long for investors to wait.

At a joint press conference in Berlin the leaders of Europe's two biggest economies set the summit as a deadline for answers to the immediate crisis in Greece.

"It is good that they are agreeing they are going to do something but it may be too far away for the markets," Burrowes said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.2% on Friday but it posted a 1.7% gain on the week as reassurances about the European debt situation calmed investors.

Investors were also reassured by the U.S. Labor Department report that U.S. employers added 103,000 jobs in September, beating the 55,000 analysts expected, but the unemployment rate was steady at 9.1%.

Reuters reported France, Belgium and Luxembourg had agreed to a rescue plan for Dexia SA on Sunday ahead of a board meeting of the lender.

Trading may be light in the Northern Hemisphere session with the U.S. set to celebrate Columbus Day.

The kiwi eased to 78.71 Australian cents from 78.90 cents on Friday. It fell to 58.84 yen from 59.19 yen and was little changed at 57.41 euro cents from 57.45 cents on Friday. It eased to 49.39 British pence from 49.96 pence on Friday.

The across-the-board weakness helped the trade-weighted index to fall to 68.64 from 68.92 on Friday.

Trading this week is expected to reflect commentary on the European debt crisis. Eurozone industrial production data are due on Wednesday followed by eurozone inflation and trade data at the end of the week, while in the U.S. the release of Federal Open Market Committee minutes on Wednesday U.S. time.

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