The New Zealand dollar was firmer ahead of the official signing in Washington on Wednesday of phase one of a United States-China trade deal.

The kiwi was trading at 66.51 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 66.31 in New York on Friday and 66.13 at 5pm locally. The trade-weighted index was at 72.74 points from 72.55.

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Mike Shirley, a dealer at Kiwibank, said the looming trade deal led to a stronger yuan fix and also boosted sentiment.

The People's Bank of China fixed the yuan at 6.9263 per US dollar, and it was trading near at five month low at 6.9010 at the local close. The PBOC allows the yuan to fluctuate by 2 per cent around its fixing point each day.


A Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He left today for Washington for the official signing.

While the market has been focusing on how much Australia's bush fires will sway the Reserve Bank of Australia's view on whether it should cut interest rates again at its next meeting on February 4, market pricing of the odds hasn't changed much over the holiday period, despite the terrible headlines, Shirley said.

The market rates the chances of the RBA cutting its cash rate at about 44 per cent currently. That's much higher than the 10 per cent odds the market is putting on the RBNZ cutting its official cash rate at its next meeting on February 12.

The difference reflects the relatively stronger New Zealand economy and the market will be looking for confirmation from tomorrow's quarterly survey of business expectations that business confidence domestically continues to improve.

Kiwibank economist Jeremy Couchman said the ANZ Bank's monthly survey has shown improvements in each of the last two months in both headline confidence in the economy and in firms' confidence in the performance of their own businesses.

"The surveys are similar – not the same but they tend to go broadly the same way," Couchman said.

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 96.15 Australian cents from 96.25 on Friday, at 51.01 British pence from 50.60, at 59.76 euro cents from 59.53, at 72.91 yen from 72.43 and at 4.5894 Chinese yuan from 4.5846.

The two-year swap rate fell to a bid price of 1.1600 per cent from 1.1713, while 10-year swaps eased to 1.6025 per cent from 1.6350.