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NZ dollar spikes higher on US dollar weakness after dovish Fed minutes

The New Zealand dollar rose, touching a fresh record against the Aussie dollar, after minutes of the Federal Reserve's last meeting suggested officials may favour keeping US interest rates lower for longer.

The kiwi jumped to 75.52 US cents at 8:30am in Wellington, from 75.17 cents ahead of the 8am release of the minutes, and 75.36 cents at 5pm yesterday. The local currency touched a fresh post-float high of 96.85 Australian cents following the minutes, and was trading at 96.47 cents at 8:30am from 96.61 cents at 8am and 96.31 cents yesterday.

The greenback weakened after the minutes from the Fed's last meeting on Jan. 27-28 showed policy makers argued for keeping interest rates near record lows for longer as they weighed risks facing the US economy. The Federal Open Market Committee considered the risks to be "nearly balanced" but pointed to a stronger dollar, global tensions and slow wage growth as weakening the case for a rate rise.

"They are concerned about the timing of if and when they raise rates," said Stuart Ive, senior dealer, foreign exchange, at OMF. "The policy makers are looking for more evidence of continued growth. The market is a little bit surprised by the slight dovish tone in the minutes. It may suggest that for the time being they want to see some more data."

Still, Ive said there was plenty of time for the Fed to assess more data ahead of June when traders expect US interest rates to start rising.

In New Zealand today, the ANZ monthly consumer confidence report is released at 1pm. Data on producer prices, capital goods prices and farm expenses are due out at 10:45am.

Finance Minister Bill English is scheduled to speak to the Institute of Public Affairs in Wellington at midday.

The New Zealand dollar fell to 48.73 British pence at 8am from 49.08 pence at 5pm yesterday after a strong UK labour market report boosted optimism about the outlook for the UK economy. Data for December showed UK employment rose, the unemployment rate fell and average hourly earnings increased.

The local currency advanced to 66.29 euro cents from 66.06 cents yesterday amid reports Greece will ask the Eurozone for a six-month extension of its European loan. However the reports said the loan would not be a renewal of the current bailout agreement, which includes strict austerity measures.

The kiwi slipped to 89.65 yen from 89.76 yen yesterday after the Bank of Japan confirmed it saw no need to print more money to stimulate its economy.

The trade-weighted index rose to 78.30 at 8:30am from 78.16 at 8am ahead of the release of the Fed minutes, and from 78.10 yesterday.