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NZ dollar declines as greenback strengthens on US retail sales, oil gain

Monday 15th February 2016

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The New Zealand dollar fell after the greenback strengthened as investor optimism was boosted by a gain in US retail sales and higher oil prices.

The kiwi slid to 66.18 US cents at 8am in Wellington, from 66.29 cents at the New York close and 66.84 cents at 5pm on Friday. The trade-weighted index declined to 72.03 from 72.56 on Friday.

The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, advanced after a report showed US retail sales increased 0.2 percent in January and December sales were revised higher. That boosted optimism about US consumer sentiment, and stoked speculation that the Federal Reserve could hike interest rates this year. Meanwhile, oil prices jumped 12 percent on renewed talk of production cuts. 

"Overall the US dollar was stronger, gaining a boost from the US retail sales report," Bank of New Zealand senior market strategist Kymberly Martin said in a note. "The tone of this report made a pleasant surprise compared to the recent trend of US data disappointments. The New Zealand dollar was the weakest performer relative to its peers."

Martin said she doubted if oil would rise further without solid evidence of supply constraint.

In New Zealand today, the BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Services Index is released at 10:30am. The US is closed for the Presidents Day holiday, while Chinese markets return from a week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

Chinese data on trade and new yuan loans is out today. Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said that there was no basis for continued yuan depreciation given that the nation’s balance of payments are good, capital outflows are normal and the exchange rate is basically stable against a basket of currencies, according to an interview in Chinese financial magazine Caixin published at the weekend.

The New Zealand dollar fell to 92.92 Australian cents from 93.76 cents on Friday, weakened to 58.85 euro cents from 59.16 cents, dropped to 45.60 British pence from 46.19 pence, slid to 74.98 yen from 75.50 yen, and declined to 4.3487 yuan from 4.3921 yuan.

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