The New Zealand dollar fell against the greenback after figures showed the November trade deficit was wider than expected and dairy prices declined in the latest auction.

The kiwi traded at 69.61 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 69.93 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 73.33 from 73.79 yesterday.

See live rates for the NZ-US $ below. Click for more information:NzForex Foreign Exchange Transfers

The kiwi lost ground early in the session when prices unexpectedly fell at the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, with whole milk powder prices falling 2.5 per cent.

The futures had pointed to around a 3 per cent lift in whole milk powder.


Fonterra recently lowered its forecast payout to farmer shareholders to $6.40 per kilogram of milk solids and the weak auction result may put that forecast under pressure.

The kiwi fell further when the November trade deficit came in at $1.2 billion versus expectations for $550 million and compared to an average $447m in the past five Novembers.

The wider deficit was powered by a 27 per cent on year lift in imports, the largest rise since a 62 per cent rise in December 1999. The increase included aircraft, motor vehicles, computers and diggers.

"It was the big surprise in imports, although the exports also did very well," said Westpac Bank senior strategist Imre Speizer. "There was an immediate knee-jerk response to the headline numbers," he said.

Speizer said markets will continue to focus on the US tax overhaul as the vote heads to Senate.

"While these things look like they are done deals ...there is some caution," he said.

Domestically, investors will be focused on the third-quarter gross domestic product data, expected to show growth of 0.6 per cent. Speizer said Westpac is expecting 0.4 per cent. If that pans out the market will be disappointed and the kiwi may fall further, he said.

The local currency fell to 78.60 yen from 78.76 yen yesterday and to 90.89 Australian cents from 91.27 cents. It traded at 51.96 British pence from 52.26 pence yesterday and fell to 58.74 euro cents from 59.31 cents. It slipped to 4.5903 Chinese yuan from 4.6265 yuan yesterday.


New Zealand's two-year swap rate fell 1 basis point to 2.17 per cent and the 10-year swaps rose 2 basis points to 3.11 per cent.