NZ dollar heads for 3.1% gain vs. yen as election looms

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 14 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar is headed for a 3.1 percent gain against the yen this week as Japanese voters prepare to go to the polls in an election that's expected to install a new government that backs unlimited monetary easing.

The kiwi traded at 70.75 yen at 5pm in Wellington from 70.52 yen yesterday. The currency was little changed at 84.34 US cents from 84.23 cents at 8.30am, down from 84.40 cents yesterday.

Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is expected to topple the existing regime in the Dec. 16 general election. Abe is seen as an advocate for more central bank asset purchases in a bid to revive an economy that's sharply deteriorated since last year's earthquake and tsunami. The yen weakened to 83.90 per US dollar from 83.58 yesterday.

The kiwi's rally against the yen "looks extremely over-done and does look like it needs to pull back to around 68," said Imre Speizer, market strategist at Westpac Banking Corp in Auckland.

Speizer is upbeat about the kiwi's prospects heading into the New Year, though he sees it drifting lower against the greenback next week as partisan negotiations on how to avert US$600 billion of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts continue.

New Zealand's fourth-quarter gross domestic product figures on Thursday may also weigh, with potential for a weak number hanging in the air, he said.

The kiwi is heading to a 1.4 percent weekly gain against the greenback after the Federal Reserve this week extended its money printing programme and specifically link near-zero interest rates to bringing the unemployment rate down without fuelling inflation.

Risk-sensitive assets were bolstered by the HSBC and Markit Economics report today indicating Chinese manufacturing expanded at a faster pace this month.

The kiwi was almost unchanged at 75.34 on the trade-weighted index from 75.33 yesterday, and is headed for a 1.2 percent weekly gain. It edged up to 80.07 Australian cents from 80 cents yesterday, and traded at 64.45 euro cents from 64.52 cents. The currency was little changed at 52.33 British pence from 52.30 pence yesterday.

(BusinessDesk)

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