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Kiwi finishes week up against greenback

NZN 1/04/2016 Paul McBeth

The New Zealand dollar is heading for a 3.2 per cent weekly gain against the greenback after US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's cautious outlook on the US economy saw investors dial back expectations for a rise in US interest rates and eroded demand for the world's reserve currency.

The kiwi rose to 68.96 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 66.82 cents on Friday in New York last week.

It hit a nine-month high 69.66 cents during Northern Hemisphere trading last night and was little changed from 68.99 cents on Thursday.

The trade-weighted index was little changed at 72.85 from 72.93, and is heading for a 1.9 per cent weekly gain.

Yellen urged caution on future rate hikes in her first public speech since the Fed scaled back its projected interest rate path last month.

That pushed the greenback lower against most major currencies and investors are now awaiting US non-farm payrolls data on Friday US time to see whether that caution is warranted.

"If we get a bad number, the US dollar will weaken further as it becomes more and more compelling to sell," said Michael Johnston, a senior trader at HiFX in Auckland.

Johnston said the strength of the kiwi is undermining the New Zealand Reserve Bank's bias towards lower interest rates by making imported products cheaper, lowering the rate of inflation, and while it's not at a level that warrants intervention it heightens the chance of another rate cut at this month's meeting.

"If they could wave their magic wand, they'd be lopping a good 5 cents off the kiwi," he said.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate edged up one basis point to 2.2 per cent at 5pm in Wellington and 10-year swaps increased three basis points to 3 per cent.

The kiwi fell to 4.4581 Chinese yuan from 4.4614 yuan yesterday.

The local currency was almost unchanged at 90.15 Australian cents from 90.14 cents yesterday, and 77.52 yen from 77.53 yen. The kiwi fell to 60.58 euro cents from 60.96 cents yesterday and traded at 48.08 British pence from 48.11 pence.

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