Kiwi takes flight as New Zealand's central bank surprises by standing pat

Reuters SINGAPORE | Updated on November 13, 2019

Kiwi soars after Reserve Bank of New Zealand dashes rate-cut expectations. File Photo   -  Reuters

Dollar steady elsewhere near multi-week highs

The New Zealand dollar soared 1 per cent on Wednesday after the country's central bank unexpectedly left interest rates on hold, while most other currencies trod water. “It's flying. Massive surprise,” said Imre Speizer, head of New Zealand strategy at Westpac Bank in Auckland. “There's a lot of position exiting going on.”

Almost all analysts had forecast a cut in the 1 per cent benchmark rate to a record-low 0.75 per cent, with futures markets having priced in a better-than-75 per cent chance of a cut as slack spending and a global slowdown held New Zealand's economic growth at a six-year low.

The kiwi zoomed almost a cent higher to $0.6403 after the decision was announced, putting it on track for its steepest daily gain in a year. Yields on two-year New Zealand bonds jumped by their most in more than two years.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said aggressive easing earlier this year meant current settings were appropriate, but left the door open for more stimulus. The kiwi later gave up some of its gains to settle around $0.6395, and moves elsewhere in Asian hours were modest. “It's all been about the New Zealand dollar,” said Commonwealth Bank FX analyst Joe Capurso.

Against other currencies, the US dollar was only a touch weaker after US President Donald Trump said in a speech overnight that a trade deal with China was “close,” but failed to provide any further details. Hopes for an imminent deal to wind back tit-for-tat tariffs the world's two largest economies have imposed on each other have lifted the dollar 1 per cent this week to a one-month high of 98.423 overnight against a basket of currencies.

It was a touch below that level in Asian trade, though moves were slight as investors waited for more concrete news. Trump's speech at the Economic Club of New York mostly reprised well-worn criticism of the US Federal Reserve for failing to cut interest rates deeply enough and rhetoric about China's “cheating” on trade.

However his remark that a deal “could happen soon,” was enough to keep the dollar holding most of those recent gains. “(It) was heavy on rhetoric and light on detail, leaving markets none the wiser,” National Australia Bank's senior FX strategist Rodrigo Catril said in a note.

Against the Japanese yen the dollar was a touch weaker at 108.93 yen - not far below the 5-1/2-month high of 109.48 yen it hit last week. The dollar scaled a month-high against the euro overnight and steadied near that level at $1.012 on Wednesday.

China's yuan weakened past the 7-per-dollar mark after the speech and fell a little further to 7.0212 per dollar in onshore trade on Wednesday. The British pound was steady at $1.2850, after a brief boost from the Brexit Party's decision not to contest Conservative-held seats at December's election faded. The Australian dollar was pinned at $0.6837 by weak, but largely inline, wages data.

Later on Wednesday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is due to testify on the US economic outlook before the congressional Joint Economic Committee at 1600 GMT. The first public hearings in Trump's impeachment inquiry begin an hour earlier at 1500 GMT.

Published on November 13, 2019

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like