The New Zealand dollar continued to drift lower today, ending up just above the US56 cent mark at the local close.

At 8am today the NZD was buying US56.49c and lost nearly half a cent to be worth US56.12c at 5pm.

The kiwi was slightly softer, awaiting key data on Thursday and Friday, said Murray Hindley, chief foreign exchange dealer at ANZ Institutional Bank.

The only local data today was t he Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence index, which slipped back into pessimistic territory (96.0 in March from 101.3 in December) but confidence is still seen as resilient.

That caused only a "small dip" in the dollar , Mr Hindley said.

The survey came out at 2pm and the dollar dropped from US56.32c down to US55.94c over the next 30 minutes.

The balance of payments figures for the December quarter are due out tomorrow and gross domestic product and overseas merchandise trade figures are due on Friday.

The NZD was down against other main currencies.

It was worth A80.49c at 5pm today, down from A80.83c yesterday.

Against the euro it was down to 0.4161 from 0.4178 and down to 54.85 Japanese yen from 55.77.

It lost more than half a pence against the British pound to 38.21p from 38.90p.

The trade weighted index fell to 55.74 from 56.37.

In overseas exchanges the yen inched up against the euro and the Australian dollar on Wednesday, pulling away from this week's five-month low versus the euro, as falls in Tokyo shares tempered buying of higher-yielding currencies.

The dollar edged up against the euro after rising the previous day, when optimism about a US plan to rid banks of bad assets ebbed, prompting investors to resume safe-haven buying of the greenback.

The euro dipped 0.4 per cent against the yen from late US trade on Tuesday to 131.30 yen, having retreated from a five-month high of 134.50 yen hit on trading platform EBS on Tuesday.

Against the dollar, the euro dipped 0.1 per cent to $1.3453, having come down from last week's two-month high of $1.3739.

- NZPA