The New Zealand dollar fell after Chinese figures showed a bigger-than-expected drop in imports last month, which weighed on the currencies of countries that ship commodities to the world's second-largest economy.

The kiwi fell to 66.74 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 66.97 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index fell to 71.45 from 71.57 yesterday.

China's imports tumbled 17.7 percent in September from a year earlier, more than expected, while exports slipped just 1.1 percent, leaving a trade surplus of 376 billion yuan, or about US$59 billion.

The Australian dollar also fell after the trade figures. Australia counts China as its biggest market, while for New Zealand it is the second-largest after Australia for exports, including dairy products.


"The trade figures were slightly bearish for the kiwi," said Imre Speizer, a strategist at Westpac Banking Corp.

"If they are importing less, some of that is stuff from us and from Australia."

The kiwi and the Aussie dollars had already weakened ahead of the trade data as the greenback firmed slightly, he said.

Locally, investors are awaiting Friday's third-quarter inflation figures, which will provide a gauge on whether New Zealand's central bank will cut interest rates further. Traders are pricing in a 22 percent chance of a cut at this month's monetary policy review.

Speizer said it is "unlikely" the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at the end of this month, around the same time as New Zealand's Reserve Bank will review the official cash rate, and a a US Federal Reserve interest rate rise in December was more likely.

The local currency was little changed at 4.2283 Chinese yuan from 4.2393 yuan yesterday. The kiwi traded at 91.22 Australian cents from 91.30 cents yesterday, and fell to 79.78 yen from 80.48 yen. It fell to 58.75 euro cents from 58.88 cents, and traded at 43.57 British pence from 43.68 pence.

The two-year swap rate rose 3 basis points to 2.7 percent and ten-year swaps rose about 3 basis points to 3.54 percent.