17 Feb 2014

Weak US data sends NZ dollar higher

6:56 pm on 17 February 2014

The New Zealand dollar is stronger against the US dollar following the release of weak US manufacturing figures last Friday.

Westpac currency strategist Imre Speizer said data from China also fuelled the Kiwi's gains.

"The strength in the Kiwi dollar relative to the US is a function of improved risk appetite globally. Last week equity markets ended on a strong note and this morning our currency simply followed that move," Mr Speizer said.

"There was also some strong Chinese lending data released on Saturday. Today was the first chance the markets had to react to that, and that was another reason why Kiwi-US rose."

Just after 5pm, the New Zealand dollar was buying: 83.72 US cents, 92.43 Australian cents, 49.86 pence, 0.6105 euro and 85.06 yen.

Fletchers sets tone

The share market was slightly higher, the NZX Top 50 Index gaining 7 points to 4895.

Forsyth Barr investment adviser Dave Schaper said Fletcher Building, the largest listed stock, set the tone after it announced the $120 million sale of its Pacific Steel division.

"It looked like it went down pretty well to start with. Fletcher Building's share price was up in early trading for the day so it has actually softened off."

The sale was not significant for Fletcher Building given the size of its business but it was for the New Zealand steel industry, Mr Schaper said.

"There has been a lot of over-capacity in the New Zealand steel sector and some rationalisation, some consolidation, in the steel sector in New Zealand should help with the overall margins in that business, and you can see that has gone down quite well for Steel & Tube."

Fletcher Building shares rose as high as $9.63 before ending Monday at $9.54, up 6 cents.

Steel & Tube gained 5 cents to $3.05.

Elsewhere in the market, Property for Industry gained 1 cent to $1.28 after it announced a 50 percent jump in annual net profit, largely because of last year's takeover of the Direct Property Fund.

Mr Schaper said the company's dividend of 2.01 cents per share for the fourth quarter was higher than the market had been expecting.

Millennium and Copthorne Hotels shares were unchanged at 66 cents after the company announced plans to raise $112 million through a rights issue of non-voting preference shares.

The money will be invested in an associate company which is building hotels in China.