Fed minutes, Australian jobs data awaited to give kiwi dollar direction

The New Zealand dollar was little changed as investors prepare for minutes to the latest US Federal Reserve policy review and Australian employment figures later in the week.

The kiwi traded at 85.93 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 85.81 cents at 8am and 85.97 cents on Friday in New York. The trade-weighted index rose to 80.31 from 80.03 at the New York close.

Traders are waiting for the release of minutes to last month’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday in Washington to get a clearer steer on when the US central bank might start raising interest rates. Chair Janet Yellen surprised investors when she indicated the Fed would start hiking rates six months after the end of quantitative easing, although has softened the tone on those comments.

“People will be watching to see whether the FOMC minutes remind us that slightly hawkish shift back in the March meeting is for real or not,” said Imre Speizer, market strategist at Westpac Banking Corp in Auckland. “It’s all about the US dollar at the moment and will continue to be this week.”

Investors are also waiting for Australian employment figures, which are expected to show the nation added 5,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters poll of economists. The kiwi was little changed at 92.63 Australian cents from 92.51 cents on Friday in New York.

Westpac’s Speizer said the Australian and US events may keep a cap on any gains in the kiwi this week, and he predicts it will trade between 85 US cents and 86 cents, with a neutral bias.

A BusinessDesk survey of 11 traders and strategists predicts the local currency may trade between 84 US cents and 87 cents this week. Six predict the kiwi will fall this week, while one expects it to gain and four see it largely unchanged

New Zealand property values rose at their slowest annual pace in six months in March, as lower Christchurch valuations, limits on low equity lending and rising interest rates cooled the market, according to state-owned valuer Quotable Value.

Investors will watch the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research’s quarterly survey of business opinion tomorrow, particularly inflation expectations.

The local currency fell to 88.57 yen from 88.79 yen last week, and was unchanged at 62.73 euro cents. It was little changed at 51.86 British pence from 51.85 pence.

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