The New Zealand dollar was sharply weaker against the US dollar after weaker-than-expected economic growth in the third quarter added to the view that rate cuts may be back on the table.

The kiwi traded at 67.37 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 68.28 US cents as at 8am and from 68.64 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index declined to 73.83 from 74.92 yesterday.

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The kiwi had already dropped around a quarter of a US cent after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates and signaled more to come. It took a further tumble when Statistics New Zealand said the economy expanded 0.3 per cent in the September quarter, down from a 1 per cent rise in the prior quarter.

Economists had expected quarterly growth of 0.6 per cent and 2.8 per cent annual growth, according to the median in a Bloomberg poll. The central bank was forecasting growth of 0.7 per cent.


It was the slowest rate of growth since the December quarter of 2013.

ANZ Bank now expects the central bank to cut the rate three times between now and 2020, partly due to the weaker economic momentum.

"The kiwi has seen a decent fall on the back of that as you'd expect as 0.3 percent was a bit of a miss," said Alex Hill, head of dealing Australasia at HiFX in Auckland.

Given the significant focus on interest rates in both New Zealand and Australia "markets are very sensitive to these kinds of number."

He noted the kiwi is also sharply weaker against the Australian dollar, trading at 94.85 versus 95.41 late yesterday. "Kiwi exporters to Australia will be breathing a bit of a sigh of relief," said Hill.

The Aussie was also supported by jobs data across the Tasman that showed a net 37,000 new jobs were created in November, up from a downwardly revised 28,600 the month before and ahead of expectations.

The unemployment rate, however, was 5.1 per cent, slightly higher than the forecast 5 per cent.

The kiwi traded at 4.6540 Chinese yuan from 4.7297 yuan. It dropped to 75.66 yen from 77.10 yen yesterday and traded at 53.38 British pence from 54.17 pence. The local currency fell to 59.21 euro cents from 60.30 cents yesterday.


New Zealand's two-year swap rate fell 7 basis points to 1.97 per cent; the 10-year swaps were down 8 basis points at 2.65 per cent.