The New Zealand dollar rose as investors pushed the greenback to an eight-week low ahead of a Federal Reserve statement on expectations that US interest rates won't rise until later in the year.

The kiwi rose as high as 77.40 US cents, matching a three-month high touched earlier this month, and was trading at 77.15 cents at 8am in Wellington, from 76.19 cents yesterday.

The trade-weighted index increased to 79.48 from 78.98 yesterday.

The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, touched an eight-week low of 96.011 overnight as investors reduce their long positions, which bet the currency will rise in value.

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A report showing an unexpected slump in US consumer confidence added to a series of weaker-than-expected US economic data in recent weeks, stoking expectations US interest rates will probably remain near zero until September.

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee releases its latest statement at 6am New Zealand time tomorrow, ahead of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's statement at 9am, with both central banks picked to keep interest rates on hold.

"Further weakness in US data saw markets continue to liquidate US dollar long positions into tonight's FOMC meeting, where markets are expecting a cautious message to be delivered," ANZ Bank New Zealand senior economist Mark Smith and senior FX strategist Sam Tuck said in a note.

ANZ expects the kiwi to trade between 76 US cents and 78.20 cents today.

In the US later today, traders will be eyeing the first official report on first-quarter GDP growth. According to Bloomberg consensus forecast for first quarter activity has dropped considerably over the course of the quarter, from 2.8 per cent at the end of last year to 1 percent at present.

In New Zealand today, the focus will be on March merchandise trade data, scheduled for release at 10:45am.

The annual deficit is expect to widen to a six-year high of $2.74 billion, from $2.18 billion last month, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

The ANZ business confidence survey is scheduled for release at 1pm. The Reserve Bank releases its foreign exchange transaction data for March at 3pm.

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The New Zealand dollar touched 96.09 Australian cents, its lowest in more than a month as the outlook for the Australian economy improves following a rise in iron ore prices.

The kiwi was recently trading at 96.21 Australian cents from 96.80 cents yesterday.

The local currency advanced to 50.34 British pence from 50.01 pence after weaker-than-expected UK first-quarter GDP data.

The kiwi gained to 70.30 euro cents from 70.07 cents yesterday and increased to 91.71 yen from 90.73 yen.