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NZ dollar little changed after GDP data

Rebecca Howard

The New Zealand dollar was little changed, benefiting from ongoing US dollar weakness despite initially falling on weaker-than-expected domestic economic growth.

The NZ dollar dollar traded at 73.27 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington, unchanged from 8am and versus 73.39 cents late Wednesday. The trade-weighted index slipped to 74.95 from 75.07.

The local currency fell about a quarter of US cent early in the session on news that the economy expanded 0.6 per cent in the three months to December 31 versus an expected 0.8 per cent as unfavourable weather weighed on agricultural output.

"The currency market reacted to the weak headline number but when you dig into the details it is not a terrible story and now we are right back where we started," said senior macro strategist at ANZ Bank New Zealand Phil Borkin.

BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis said the dip was "of little concern" as "the economy remains in generally good nick supported, in particular, by ongoing strength in household spending, the services sector and strong terms of trade".

Mr Borkin said the NZ dollar was also continuing to benefit from US dollar weakness on growing fears of a possible trade war.

"Domestic events are certainly taking a back seat to global themes right now," he said.

Fears of a trade war intensified after US President Donald Trump sought to impose fresh tariffs on China.

Separately, Mike Shirley, senior dealer, FX Interest Rate Sales at KiwiBank said this week's successful Debt Management Office auction "is spurring a need for offshore investors to buy NZD in order to fund their acquisitions."

The NZ dollar traded at 93.01 Australian cents from 93.19 cents Wednesday. It declined to 77.68 yen from 78.11 yen. It traded at 59.20 euro cents from 59.16 cents and traded at 52.39 British pence from 52.48 pence. It was at 4.6237 yuan from 4.6342 yuan.

New Zealand's two-year swap rate lifted 2 basis point to 2.26 per cent and the 10-year swap rate fell 2 basis points to 3.19 per cent.