Kiwi at record levels against the aussie, but ASB Bank survey predicts weakness against the greenback.

The New Zealand dollar is continuing its record-breaking run against the Australian dollar in recent weeks and was last night closing in on parity.

However, the ASB Bank in its Kiwi Dollar Barometer survey said the kiwi was likely to continue to ease against the US dollar.

The survey took place in early February, around the time the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its official rate by a quarter of a percentage point to its current level of 2.25 per cent.

Since then, the Aussie dollar has lost more ground against most of the major currencies because of ongoing weakness in commodities markets, particularly iron ore.


"We were surprised that all businesses either thought the cross rate had peaked, or if it went any higher this year, it wouldn't get above A97c," the bank said.

"In recent weeks the NZ dollar has traded above A98c, and we think there is a good chance the cross rate will reach parity this year," it said.

The RBA's board is to meet today and market expectations are that the bank will once again cut its official rate to try to reinvigorate a sluggish Australian economy.

ASB's Barometer tracks exporters' and importers' exposures to foreign exchange risk through surveying businesses with annual turnover of at least $1 million.

The barometer also surveys businesses' expectations for the NZD/USD and businesses' hedging plans for managing foreign exchange risk.

The bank said there was a broad-based belief among businesses the NZ dollar would decline further over coming year. Nonetheless, the interest among importers to hedge continued to decline, the bank said.

ASB said that of the businesses that were hedging, a greater percentage of their exposure was being covered.

The bank said that, for a change, there was very little difference between the expectations of importers and exporters.


"Interestingly, despite the widely held expectation of further depreciation in the NZD, importers' interest to hedge their foreign exchange exposure declined noticeably for the second quarter," the bank said.

Meanwhile, the percentage of exporters hedging their exposures has increased for the second quarter. The ASB Kiwi Dollar Barometer has consistently shown big businesses hedge almost all their foreign exchange exposures.

Forecasts of a steady NZD/USD depreciation have been a consistent theme of the last three quarterly ASB Kiwi Dollar Barometer surveys.

On average, businesses expect the NZ dollar to ease to 0.7230 by the end of the year, and 0.7180 by next March.

ASB Economics forecasts a further depreciation in the New Zealand dollar over the coming year.

"We expect the NZD/USD to trade slightly lower than both importers and exporters are expecting over the year ahead, and have a year-end forecast of US70c," it said.

The New Zealand dollar traded yesterday at US76.03c against the US dollar and A99.74c against the Australian dollar.