Thursday in Asia, the New Zealand dollar moved slightly off its recently hit multi-day highs against most major currencies as traders reacted to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand decision to keep the benchmark interest rate at a record low.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.50 percent. In a statement accompanying the rate decision, RBNZ Governor Alan Bollard said “The New Zealand economy continues to recover,” and noting no sign of runaway inflation on the horizon.
Bollard noted that improved export earnings “have seen a pickup in household spending,” although households remain cautions. Credit growth was “subdued,” Bollard said, and “Business spending remains weak.”
The New Zealand dollar that rose to a 2-day high of 63.79 against the Japanese yen around 5:40 pm ET slipped to 63.45 around 6:10 pm. The kiwi-yen pair is presently trading above Wednesday’s New York session closing value of 63.63.
In Japan, retail sales were down 0.3 percent on year in December, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said today. That was worse than forecasts for a 0.3 percent annual gain after the 1.0 percent contraction in November.
On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, retail sales were down 1.2 percent versus forecasts for a 0.2 percent decline after the 0.2 percent gain a month earlier.
The New Zealand dollar, which climbed to a 2-day high of 1.9825 against the European currency around 5:40 pm ET pared some of its gains shortly. The euro-kiwi pair is presently trading near yesterday’s closing value of 1.9864.
Italian business confidence, German unemployment rate, euro-zone economic, consumer and industrial confidence indices-all for the month of January, which will be released in the upcoming European session may influence markets today.
The New Zealand dollar that advanced to a 2-day high of 1.2666 against the Australian dollar earlier in the session declined to below 1.2720 around 6:10 pm ET. The aussie-kiwi pair moved sideways thereafter and is currently quoted at 1.27. At Wednesday’s North American close, the aussie-kiwi pair was worth 1.2686.
The New Zealand dollar rose above 0.7080 against the US dollar by 5:40 pm ET. The pair then eased to below yesterday’s closing value of 0.7067 and is presently quoted at 0.7054.
The Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve, announced yesterday afternoon that it was maintaining the target range for its benchmark federal funds rate at zero to 0.25 percent.
The decision came with a dissenting vote, signaling a split among policy-makers about when to begin raising rates again. The Fed noted that businesses are still hesitant to add to payrolls, and while bank lending continues remains low, “financial market conditions remain supportive of economic growth.”
The focus now turns to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this evening, with the markets bracing for any fresh policy proposals, especially regarding the battered jobs market. The President will address the nation tonight at 9:00 PM ET.
Ahead of Obama’s speech, the Commerce Department is set to release its durable goods orders report, which gives the value of orders placed for goods designed to last for more than 3 years, at 8:30 AM ET. Economists look forward to a 2.0% increase in the durable goods orders for December.
Also, the Labor Department is due to release its customary weekly jobless claims report for the week ended January 22nd at 8:30 AM ET.