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17th of January 2018


NZ dollar falls on wider November trade deficit

BusinessDesk Wednesday, 20 December 2017, 8:09 pmArticle: BusinessDesk

NZ dollar falls on wider November trade deficit, drop in dairy prices

By Rebecca Howard

Dec. 20 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar fell against the greenback after figures showed the November trade deficit was wider than expected and dairy prices declined in the latest auction.

The kiwi traded at 69.61 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 69.93 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 73.33 from 73.79 yesterday.

The kiwi lost ground early in the session when prices unexpectedly fell at the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, with whole milk powder prices falling 2.5 percent. The futures had pointed to around a 3 percent lift in whole milk powder. Fonterra recently lowered its forecast payout to farmer shareholders to $6.40 per kilogram of milk solids and the weak auction result may put that forecast under pressure.

The kiwi fell further when the November trade deficit came in at $1.2 billion versus expectations for $550 million and compared to an average $447 million in the past five Novembers. The wider deficit was powered by a 27 percent on year lift in imports, the largest rise since a 62 percent rise in December 1999. The increase included aircraft, motor vehicles, computers and diggers.

"It was the big surprise in imports, although the exports also did very well," said Westpac Bank senior strategist Imre Speizer. "There was an immediate knee-jerk response to the headline numbers," he said.

Speizer said markets will continue to focus on the US tax overhaul as the vote heads to Senate. "While these things look like they are done deals ...there is some caution," he said. Domestically, investors will be focused on the third-quarter gross domestic product data, expected to show growth of 0.6 percent. Speizer said Westpac is expecting 0.4 percent. If that pans out the market will be disappointed and the kiwi may fall further, he said.

The local currency fell to 78.60 yen from 78.76 yen yesterday and to 90.89 Australian cents from 91.27 cents. It traded at 51.96 British pence from 52.26 pence yesterday and fell to 58.74 euro cents from 59.31 cents. It slipped to 4.5903 Chinese yuan from 4.6265 yuan yesterday.

New Zealand’s two-year swap rate fell 1 basis point to 2.17 percent and the 10-year swaps rose 2 basis points to 3.11 percent.


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