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NZ dollar hits new record vs. euro ahead of ECB quantitative easing

05 Mar 15

The New Zealand dollar rose to a record against the euro ahead of a European Central Bank meeting tonight where it's expected to detail plans for its quantitative easing programme starting this month.

The kiwi hit 68.55 euro cents, and was trading at 68.46 cents at 8am in Wellington, from 67.61 cents at 5pm yesterday. The local currency advanced to 75.79 US cents from 75.55 cents yesterday.

The euro slumped ahead of the ECB outlining its bond-buying programme, as the region's bankers follow a similar path to the US and Japan to bolster economic growth. The so-called money printing programmes prompt investors to shun bonds in favour of assets such as equities, with many turning to investment in better performing assets outside of their home region, causing the currency to drop.

"The euro is very definitively under pressure at the moment ahead of tonight's ECB meeting," said Sam Tuck, senior FX strategist at ANZ Bank New Zealand. "At tonight's ECB meeting we find out a lot of details about what the ECB is going to be doing with its QE. Markets are anticipating that clarity on those questions will embolden investors to make allocation decisions so that's why we are seeing European equities higher overnight and we've also seen money leaving Europe via a weaker euro."

ANZ's Tuck said the drop in the euro was in spite of recent improvements in European economic data. A report yesterday showed European retail sales advanced 1.1 percent in January, taking the annual increase to 3.7 percent with positive revisions for December.

The kiwi is likely to trade between 67.80 euro cents and 69 cents today, ANZ said.

The New Zealand dollar matched its post-float record against the Australian dollar of 97.07 Australian cents after Australian fourth-quarter growth figures yesterday confirmed a lack of momentum, in contrast to New Zealand's more buoyant economy.

Traders are pricing in a 51 percent chance that the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut its 2.25 percent benchmark interest rate at its next meeting, compared with only a 4 percent chance that New Zealand's Reserve Bank will cut its 3.5 percent rate, according to the Overnight Index Swap Curve.

Today, traders will be eyeing Australian monthly retail sales and trade data, which the ANZ says is unlikely to boost the Aussie currency.

In China today, the focus is on the start of the National Party Congress, where authorities may lower the country's gross domestic product target.

The New Zealand dollar advanced to 49.69 British pence from 49.19 pence yesterday ahead of the Bank of England meeting tonight.

The local currency gained to 90.72 yen from 90.37 yen yesterday. The trade-weighted index increased to 78.96 from 78.56 yesterday.

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