The New Zealand dollar eased a little as weaker than expected data from China added to market concern about the China-US trade stoush.

The kiwi was trading at 65.62 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 65.72 at 8am. The trade-weighted index was at 72.16 points from 72.22.

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The Chinese data showed retail sales rose 7.2 per cent in April, down from 8.7 per cent in March and greatly missing expectations of an 8.6 per cent increase. The April figure was the slowest pace since 2003.

Other figures showed industrial production rose 5.4 per cent in April, down from 8.5 per cent in March and also well below market expectations of a 6.5 per cent increase.

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That poured cold water on hopes raised by the March data that stimulatory measures by China's government were starting to work.

"All the data was weaker. Every single point of it," says Tim Kelleher, the head of institutional foreign exchange sales at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Earlier, some had taken heart from US President Donald Trump describing the trade war with China as "a little squabble" and his insistence that talks hadn't collapsed.

Kelleher says the market is now in a holding pattern awaiting Australian March-quarter labour force data due out tomorrow.

"The Reserve Bank of Australia is on hold, but if jobs start to weaken, they will go to a cut bias as well," in line with that of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, he says.

"If we see a rate cut from Australia, that will increase the chances of another RBNZ cut – they do seem to be moving pretty much in tandem."

Data out today in Australia won't have pleased the RBA – Australian wages rose 0.5 per cent in the March quarter, leaving annual wage growth at 2.3 per cent where it has sat for three straight quarters.

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 94.70 Australian cents from 94.66, at 4.5115 Chinese yuan from 4.5174, at 50.82 British pence from 50.91, at 58.54 euro cents from 58.61, and at 71.95 Japanese yen from 72.04.

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The New Zealand two-year swap rate fell to 1.5665 per cent from 1.587 per cent yesterday, while the 10-year swap rate was little changed at 2.0875 from 2.088 per cent.