29 Nov 2013

Dollar and stock market fall

7:13 pm on 29 November 2013

The New Zealand dollar has fallen against the currencies of all our major trading partners, and an analyst predicts it could fall further.

Late on Friday afternoon, it was trading at 81 US cents, and Bancorp Treasury Services senior client advisor Peter Cavanaugh said it could fall back to 78 US cents.

"If the current sentiment of capital flows out of Asia into Europe and the US continues (and) if the Australian economy continues to show poor performance, then we're likely to see further downward pressure on the NZ-US exchange rate in coming weeks," Mr Cavanaugh said.

"However, that would be welcomed by seasonal exporters who are gearing up for their busiest time of the year.

"So in some ways it's a win-win for the trade sector and for our exporters. It's a lose-lose for the consumers but there are winners and losers in every currency market."

Just after 5pm, the New Zealand dollar was buying 89.18 Australian cents, 49.48 pence, 0.5949 euro and 83 yen.

Stock market down

The stock market was also weaker, the NZX Top 50 Index falling 15 points to 4795.

The carnage in Chorus shares as a result of political fallout dominated the market. Shares in the company plummeted after Government support parties United Future, the Maori Party and ACT joined Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First in saying they will oppose any attempt to legislate to overrule the Commerce Commission.

Chorus has said the price set by the commission in October could cost it $1 billion by 2020 and jeopardise its $929 million contract to build 70% of the ultra-fast broadband network. The regulator's ruling cuts the price Chorus can charge for its copper wire broadband and phone services by about $10 a month to $34.44 in December 2014.

Devon Funds Management analyst Phill Anderson said if the Commerce Commission's decision stood, Chorus would have to suspend paying dividends and could have to raise more capital.

"It's clear if you look at the current capital structure, and you put the UBA (copper broadband) price in, that dividend's a real stretch and the company couldn't possibly reach some of its stated targets around debt levels," Mr Anderson said.

"So under a business-as-usual case, the dividend being cut does look likely to be the least the company has to do."

Chorus shares fell 26 cents to $1.52.