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NZ dollar falls on weakening global outlook

The New Zealand dollar fell after new data showed the slowest Chinese economic growth in 24 years and the International Monetary Fund revised downwards its global growth forecasts.

The kiwi dropped to 77.16 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 77.73 cents at 8am and 77.93 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index declined to 78.85 from 79.40 yesterday.

Official Chinese data showed the world's second biggest economy grew at a 7.3 percent annual pace in the December quarter, its slowest pace of growth since 1990. That weighed on the New Zealand and Australian dollars, with both nations counting China as their biggest trading partner. Lower forecast global growth this year by the International Monetary Fund, with an expanding US economy one of the few advanced economies receiving an upgrade, added to pessimism.

China's GDP report "is the lowest they've had in 24 years, and there are continuing fears global growth is sliding down," said Stuart Ive, senior dealer foreign exchange at OMF in Wellington. "In terms of the kiwi, our performance against the US dollar will be a slow downward slide rather than a great fall."

OMF's Ive said the local currency has support at 76.80 US cents and faces resistance at 78.20 cents, with more downward pressure.

Traders are preparing for the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday in Brussels, where announcement of a major quantitative easing programme is expected, to help invigorate a moribund economy that's been hit by deflation. The prospect of a major money printing programme is seen as causing the Swiss National Bank to lift its cap on the Swiss franc against the euro, and the central bank of Denmark, which is also outside the eurozone, yesterday cut its key interest rate deeper into negative territory while retaining its euro peg.

The kiwi dropped to 66.63 euro cents at 5pm in Wellington from 67.41 cents yesterday.

New Zealand's economy is still seen outperforming its developed nation peers in 2015, with HSBC economists predicting annual growth of 3 percent this year, and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion, seen as key data for the Reserve Bank, showed firms remained upbeat, though not confident enough to push up prices in a low inflation environment.

Government figures tomorrow are expected to show consumer prices rose an annual 0.9 percent in the December quarter, just below the central bank's 1-to-3 percent target band. The Reserve Bank will review the official cash rate next week.

Traders will also be watching Fonterra Cooperative Group's GlobalDairyTrade auction on Tuesday in the US for a gauge on New Zealand's major commodity export. Global diary prices roughly halved last year, and rose at the last auction amid reduced supply.

The local currency declined to 94.47 Australian cents from 94.92 cents yesterday, and fell to 4.7950 Chinese yuan from 4.8444 yuan yesterday. It dropped to 51.19 British pence from 51.47 pence, and was little changed at 91.20 yen from 91.27 yen.

The two-year swap rate declined to 3.72 from 3.74 at 5pm in Wellington yesterday, and the 10-year swap rate was unchanged at 3.7875.