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New Zealand dollar gains as inflation expectations push higher

Tuesday 7th February 2017

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  The New Zealand dollar rose after a central bank survey that showed inflation expectations are on the rise.

The kiwi dollar traded at 73.58  as at 5:15 pm in Wellington from 73.20 cents in Asia yesterday.  The kiwi rose to 95.93 Australian cents from 95.48 cents late yesterday. 

The local currency got a lift after a Reserve Bank survey showed that inflation expectations had moved higher. Expectations for inflation one year out rose to 1.56 percent compared to 1.29 percent in the Reserve Bank's last survey three months ago. The two-year ahead figure rose to 1.92 percent from 1.68 percent, according to the survey.  While the central bank is widely expected to keep rates on hold at 1.75 percent on Thursday, the data added to the view it may lift its projected track for interest rates. 

In November the central bank forecast rates would likely remain on hold at 1.75 percent through 2019. While economists are widely expecting the first rate hike to come sometime in 2018, Sheldon Slabbert, a sales trader at CMC Markets in Auckland, said the survey "is probably seeing the market reprice the kiwi in line with rate expectations." He said the data added to the view the next move will be a hike "and a hike that's happening this year, not 2018 as most pundits have expected so far." 

News that central bank Governor Graeme Wheeler is leaving the helm in September and will be temporarily replaced by Deputy Governor Grant Spencer did not cause much market impact as there will be a succession plan in place, said Slabbert.  News that the Reserve Bank of Australia kept rates on hold at 1.5 percent also didn't move the kiwi much as the decision was largely as expected although the rate differential will continue to support the local dollar against the Australian dollar.  

Looking ahead, he said geopolitical risk in Europe and any headlines generated by US President Donald Trump will remain in focus.  The overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction will also garner investor interest with whole milk powder prices expected to slip.  

The kiwi rose to 68.72 euro cents from 67.90 cents late yesterday. It was at 59.02 British pence from around 58.65 and traded at 5.0586 yuan from 5.0196 yuan. It was little changed at 82.33 yen from 82.30 yen. The trade-weighted index was at 80 from 79.38 late yesterday.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate rose 1 basis point from Friday to 2.37 percent while the 10-year swaps fell 7 basis points to 3.47 percent. New Zealand markets were closed Monday.

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