3 Nov 2009

NZ dollar on roller coaster

10:08 am on 3 November 2009

The New Zealand dollar fluctuated wildly on Monday.

The kiwi fell nearly 1 cent against the US dollar during the morning, before regaining.

It started the morning under renewed pressure following big losses on Wall Street at the end of last week.

And the bankruptcy of US commercial lender CIT saw it trade as low as 70.8 cents US by 11am.

But strong buying from Asian government funds around midday pushed the currency up half a cent, and it climbed another half a cent by 2pm.

BNZ currency strategist Mike Jones says Asian government buyers swooped on the currency late morning.

He says they have been buying kiwi and Australian dollars in recent months on any signs of weakness in the currencies.

Shortly before 5pm the kiwi was buying 71.97 cents US.

7% down since high

The dollar has lost about 7% since hitting a 15-month high of US76.35c about 10 days ago.

Investors bailed out of export country currencies and the Greenback rallied after Wall Street plunged 2.5% on Friday, capping the worst week for US markets since May.

Weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data and the bankruptcy of US commercial lender CIT overnight on Sunday stoked fears further.

The New Zealand dollar also fell heavily last week when the Reserve Bank signalled interest rates would remain on hold until at least June next year.

Unemployment figures to be released on Thursday loom as another potential threat for the high-flying dollar.

BNZ Capital currency strategist Danica Hampton says a fall in consumer spending sparked concerns about the durability of the economic recovery, causing Friday's plunge on Wall Street.

Ms Hampton says global investors are pulling their money out of countries such as New Zealand, instead preferring to invest in the US and Japan.

She believes the New Zealand currency could fall further if Thursday's unemployment figures are worse than expected.

Currency specialist Derek Rankin, of Rankin Treasury Advisory Ltd, predicts the New Zealand will rebound over the next week or two, as investors to return to the market.