The New Zealand dollar was little changed and is more likely to fall, on a technical basis after failing to punch through its highs for the year. First-quarter inflation figures tomorrow are expected to be supportive of interest rates staying low.

The kiwi dollar traded at 73.37 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington from 73.38 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index was little changed at 75.17.

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The kiwi climbed to as high as 73.95 cents on Friday before retreating and failing to break through its highs for the year, a double top of about 74.37 cents. The 200-day moving average is 71.80 cents and the currency is more likely to retreat toward the bottom of its recent trading range of 72 cents to 74 cents, said Grant Bodle, a senior dealer at HiFX.

"The down-trend channel is still intact," Bodle said. The kiwi "is more likely to trend back to 72 cents."


There is more scope for the kiwi to decline on a fundamental basis given the Federal Reserve is expected to hike US interest rates twice, and possibly three times more this year, he said.

"On fundamentals, the US dollar should strengthen," he said, adding that he was surprised the kiwi didn't sell off on Monday morning following the missile strikes on Syria over the weekend. The lack of reaction was in contrast to another geopolitical risk, when North Korea was testing missiles near Japan and the kiwi fell.

Economists expect annual inflation was 1.1 per cent in the first quarter, slowing from a 1.6 per cent pace three months earlier. That's also the forecast of the Reserve Bank, which is projecting its first rate increase in 2020. The kiwi didn't move much after dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, gaining for the first time in five events, amid strong demand. The GDT price index increased 2.7 per cent and whole milk powder rose 0.6 per cent to US$3,311 a tonne.

The kiwi dollar rose to 4.6120 yuan from 4.6086 yuan yesterday when data showed China's economy grew 6.8 per cent, year-on-year, in the first quarter, while industrial production grew 6 per cent, missing estimates.

The local dollar rose to 51.28 British pence from 51.16 pence as figures showed the UK jobless rate was 4.2 per cent in February, versus expectations for a rate of 4.3 per cent. Average weekly earnings rose 2.8 per cent, year-on-year, as expected.

The New Zealand dollar traded at 94.43 Australian cents from 94.48 cents yesterday. It traded at 59.24 euro cents from 59.26 cents and rose to 78.70 yen from 78.57 yen.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate fell 1 basis point to 2.30 per cent and the 10-year swap rate fell 3 basis points to 3.15 per cent.