29 Sep 2014

Did RBNZ intervene in the currency?

7:53 am on 29 September 2014

At 3pm today, we will finally learn whether the Reserve Bank intervened in the currency last month.

On another quiet Monday morning a month ago, the New Zealand dollar dropped half a US cent in the space of five minutes.

That was enough for rumours to start flying that the Reserve Bank had intervened in the market.

The Reserve Bank has not said a word, but some of the major banks, including Westpac and Bank of New Zealand, are convinced the central bank had been selling New Zealand dollars that morning.

Bancorp Treasury Services senior client advisor Peter Cavanaugh is among those just as convinced the central bank did no such thing.

He said if the Reserve Bank had intervened it would have been appropriate for it to say so at the time.

Mr Cavanaugh said it had the hallmarks of external pressures on an ill-equipped domestic market rather than intervention by New Zealand's central bank.

That quiet Monday had followed a meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole in the United States.

Comments emanating from that meeting fuelled speculation the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates sooner rather than later.

That was a good enough reason for the US dollar to rise - and that means a fall in the New Zealand dollar.

Or the currency's movement could have been the result of a largish transaction in a market temporarily lacking in counter-parties.

One way or another, data released this afternoon on the bank's foreign currency assets liabilities will show whether or not the Reserve Bank had anything to do with it.

BNZ currency strategist Raiko Shareef suggested the central bank sold about $NZ250 million.

He said regardless of what the central bank did or did not do last month, governor Graeme Wheeler is clearly signalling that outright intervention is certainly on the cards now.

Mr Shareef said the governor's statement last week that the kiwi's level was unsustainable and unjustified showed Mr Wheeler was no longer satisfied with sitting on his hands.

He said he would not be surprised if Mr Wheeler entered into an extended campaign of currency intervention.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs