The kiwi dollar is sharply higher after New Zealand’s unemployment rate fell to the lowest in 10 years in the September quarter, likely taking rate cuts off the table at least in the short-term.
The kiwi traded at 67.65 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 66.69 cents at 8.30am and 66.57 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 73.67 from 72.61.
The kiwi jumped when the unemployment rate reported today was well below the 4.4 percent forecast in a Bloomberg poll of 13 economists and the lowest since the June quarter of 2008 when it was 3.8 percent, Statistics New Zealand said.
“The unemployment number drove quite an aggressive move in the kiwi,” said ANZ Bank New Zealand senior macro strategist Phil Borkin.
The labour data is of particular interest as the central bank now has the additional goal of “supporting maximum levels of sustainable employment within the economy” as well as the existing goal of price stability when setting monetary policy.
While the central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold at tomorrow’s rate review, the focus is on the statement and whether the bank retains the view that the next move could be either up or down.
“The RBNZ needs to acknowledge that activity is much stronger than expected only three months ago, and so the rate cut scenario has morphed from realistic to a distant tail risk,” said Annette Beacher, chief Asia-Pacific macro strategist for TD Securities.
New Zealand’s two-year swap rate rose 8 basis point to 2.12 percent; the 10-year swaps rose 11 basis point to 3.01 percent as markets anticipate Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr will be more hawkish.
Investors will also be keen to see whether Orr comments on today’s jobs report given that tomorrow’s forecasts would have been finalized ahead of that data. Borkin said the data threw a “huge curveball” but he thinks Orr will remain cautious and want to see more data.
The kiwi is also getting pushed around by headlines out of the US as midterm election results roll out. According to Dow Jones Newswires, the latest results indicate the Democrats chipped away at Republicans’ margin in the House and seemed on track to win a majority. But they lost ground in the Senate, meaning Republicans are likely to hold their majority.
Borkin said the kiwi was benefitting from a weaker US dollar but the market reaction is fairly muted. The result was anticipated and “doesn’t appear to have been the big blue wave, or the anti-Trump vote some were suggesting it could have been,” he said.
The kiwi traded at 93.18 Australian cents from 92.42 Australian cents.
The New Zealand dollar traded at 51.49 British pence from 51.10 British pence Tuesday. It was at 4.6879 Chinese yuan from 4.5885 yuan and at 76.59 yen from 75.31 yen. It was at 59.00 euro cents from 58.39 cents.