NZ dollar falls on inflation outlook

The New Zealand dollar has fallen ahead of inflation figures expected to feed into the Reserve Bank’s interest rate outlook and after an earthquake in the lower North Island caused a brief flurry of selling.


THE kiwi traded at 82.43 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 82.46 cents at 8am, down from 82.62 cents on Friday in New York. The trade-weighted index declined to 78.37 from 78.61 last week.

New Zealand’s consumers price index to be released on Tuesday is forecast to have fallen 0.1 per cent in the final three months of 2013, for an annual rate of 1.5 per cent, according to a Reuters survey.

The RBNZ plans to hike interest rates this year to head off the threat of inflation, and investors will be watching the CPI to gauge when governor Graeme Wheeler might start tightening policy.

“CPI looms large – we know it’s a key figure, especially with all the talk being about interest rates at the moment,” said Alex Hill, head of dealing at HiFX in Auckland.

“It might impact on the tone from Wheeler at the end of the month.”

Monday’s 6.2 magnitude earthquake in the Lower North Island sparked a brief drop in the local currency, which it has since recovered, though Mr Hill said the strength of the US dollar will keep the kiwi under pressure.

The kiwi fell to 85.72 yen at 5pm in Wellington from 86.20 yen last week, to 93.87 Australian cents from 94.12 cents and to 60.93 euro cents from 61.04 cents.