NZ dollar falls vs. A$ after strong Australian data

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

The New Zealand dollar fell against its trans-Tasman counterpart after stronger than expected Australian trade and retail data sapped enthusiasm for the nation's central bank to cut interest rates.

The kiwi fell to 93.38 Australian cents at 5pm in Wellington from 93.63 cents yesterday. It traded at 84.19 US cents at 5pm from 84.22 cents at 8am, up from 83.90 cents yesterday.

Australian retail sales grew 1.2 percent in January, beating estimates for 0.5 percent growth, and it posted a trade surplus of $1.43 billion compared to expectations of $100 million, according to the Bureau of Statistics. Traders are betting the Reserve Bank of Australia will hike the target cash rate 14 basis points over the coming year, having previously priced in a reduction of 3 basis points, indicating an outside chance of another cut.

"It was very very very strong Aussie data - that's two days in a row. If you're still hanging on for an RBA rate cut you're going to be sorely disappointed," said Tim Kelleher, head of institutional FX sales NZ at ASB Institutional in Auckland.

"We've probably seen the top in the kiwi/Aussie."

New Zealand figures today showed Auckland house sales fell 15 percent in February from the same month a year earlier, while the average sale price rose to $678,533 from $647,207 in January.

Buoyant property markets in Auckland and Christchurch prompted the Reserve Bank to impose lending restrictions on home loans with sub-20 percent deposits, as a means to delay tighter monetary policy. Governor Graeme Wheeler is widely expected to start hiking rates at next week's meeting.

Traders will be watching US jobs figures on Friday in Washington which will likely show some weakness due to the harsh winter weather experienced by the world's biggest economy. Traders are currently expecting an extra 150,000 jobs were added to non-farm payrolls in February.

The kiwi rose to 61.34 euro cents from 61.08 cents yesterday amid speculation the European Central Bank may increase stimulation when it meets today in Brussels.

The local currency was little changed at 50.39 British pence from 50.32 pence yesterday leading in to the Bank of England meeting where no change is expected.

The kiwi climbed to 86.42 yen from 85.71 yen yesterday. The trade-weighted index rose to 79.05 from 78.83 yesterday.

- BusinessDesk

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