The New Zealand dollar firmed a little but the market is essentially holding its collective breath ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline for tariffs to kick in on the remaining Chinese exports into the US unless the two nations reach some kind of deal.

The kiwi was trading at 65.64 US cents at 5:02pm in Wellington from 65.52 at 8am while the trade-weighted index was at 72.53 points from 72.40.

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Global markets are still banking on US and China inking a deal. Bloomberg reported US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue saying Washington is unlikely to allow the next lot of tariffs to take effect.

"We have a deadline coming up on the December 15 for another tranche of tariffs, I do not believe those will be implemented and I think we may see some backing away," Perdue told Bloomberg.


The domestic currency did get a tiny boost when China reported its consumer price index for November came in 4.5 per cent higher than a year earlier, with food prices skyrocketing more than 19 per cent because of the outbreak of African swine fever, a factor that has boosted New Zealand meat exports.

Westpac currency strategist Imre Speizer said the currency was going up anyway before the data.

"We've got some big stuff coming up this week so I think the market's saying we're not interested until then," Speizer said.

That includes the government's half-yearly economic and fiscal update due 1pm tomorrow and which is expected to include details of increased spending.

Speizer said the domestic currency may rally "if we get lots and lots of stimulus." Should the HYEFU spending disappoint, the market might show the opposite reaction.

"The currency doesn't usually move on fiscal news – the market would only move because of the implications for monetary policy. If you spend a lot of money, monetary policy has less work to do," he said.

Then there's the US Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy decision due 7am Thursday, NZ time, and the European Central Bank's latest statement due overnight Thursday. Neither central bank is likely to change their current settings.

"The Fed's going to be on hold. They've been talking about that for the last month and a half" and, similarly, there's no reason for the incoming ECB chair Christine Lagarde to change settings.


Speizer said there have been a few signs lately that the ECB's stimulatory efforts are starting to work but that it's too early to tell yet.

On Friday, NZ time, polls close in Britain with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party likely to re-win government.

The New Zealand dollar was at 96.08 Australian cents from 95.89, at 49.91 British pence from 49.80, at 59.30 euro cents from 59.22, at 71.29 yen from 71.15 yen and at 4.6198 Chinese yuan from 4.6119.

The two-year swap rate eased to a bid price of 1.2064 per cent from 1.2269 yesterday while 10-year swaps fell to 1.6550 per cent from 1.6950 per cent.