The New Zealand dollar held near 80 Australian cents ahead of a report this afternoon that's expected to show unemployment levels across the Tasman rose to their highest in three months.

The New Zealand dollar rose to 79.77 Australian cents at 8am in Wellington from 79.84 cents yesterday at 5pm. The kiwi was little changed on 81.69 US cents from 81.64 cents. The trade weighted index was largely unchanged on 72.98 from 73.01.

Australia, New Zealand's largest trading partner, will release its jobless rate later today. A survey of 20 Reuters economist predicts it rose to 5.3 per cent from 5.1 per cent, with the participation rate unchanged at 65 per cent.

"The Australian employment data will hold court on the moves of the New Zealand dollar during this afternoon's trading," said Alex Sinton, senior dealer at ANZ New Zealand. "We aren't going to shoot back up to 80 plus on that cross."


The New Zealand dollar is likely to trade in a range of 79.65 Australian cents to 80 cents on the day, Sinton said.

The Reserve Bank of Australia cut its key interest rate by a quarter of a point to 3.25 per cent last week, citing weaker commodity prices in a global market where the outlook for economic growth "has softened".

The September jobs report could "prove crucial" ahead of the RBA's November 6 interest rate decision, Sinton said.

In the US, the world's largest economy, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book business survey based on reports from its 12 district banks said the US economy "generally expanded modestly since the last report." Mild improvements were reported in the housing market and vehicle sales.

In New Zealand, the food price index for September will be released by Statistics New Zealand this morning. That's followed by the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence and Bank of New Zealand performance manufacturing index.

The New Zealand dollar was little changed on 51.02 British pence from 51.04 pence last evening, and steady at 63.83 yen from 63.90 yen. The kiwi fell to 63.33 euro cents from 63.46 cents.