Punters split on how kiwi will move

NIKO KLOETEN
Last updated 05:00 07/07/2014

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Investors hold mixed views on the direction of the New Zealand dollar.

The dollar has traded above US87 cents for the past week, within reach of the post-float high of US88.4c reached in 2011.

While retail investors are predicting the kiwi will fall against the United States dollar, institutions expect further gains.

The kiwi is up US5c since the start of the year, thanks in part to a series of official cash rate increases by the Reserve Bank. The bank has lifted the key interest rate from 2.5 per cent to 3.25 per cent since March, while the US federal funds rate remains near zero per cent.

Chris Smith, general manager of online trading platform CMC Markets New Zealand, said the dollar's dizzying heights were leading some investors to think it was in for a fall.

Smith said between 80 and 90 per cent of CMC's retail currency trading customers in New Zealand were picking the kiwi to fall against the greenback, a number that had increased over the past six months as the New Zealand dollar continued to climb.

Proximity to the record high was a big reason so many expected a drop soon, he said.

"The New Zealand dollar could break through US88c and continue to trend higher, but no-one has seen that happen so naturally they think it could go lower."

But Westpac senior market strategist Imre Speizer said institutional speculators expected the kiwi to rise against the US dollar.

Speizer said a group of speculators lost money by predicting a fall ahead of the Reserve Bank's June monetary policy statement, in which it forecast a higher interest rate track than the speculators expected.

"If anything I would say over the last few weeks the speculative institutional set has been buying the kiwi."

Speizer predicted the kiwi would hit a new post-float high in the next month or two, continuing its upward trend against the US dollar since it was floated in 1985.

A peak of about US89c would be a "sensible number", he said.

Smith said the recent movements in the kiwi had caused a spike in interest and trading activity from its New Zealand clients, who trade between $400 million to $500m in currency per day in notional terms.

This was in contrast to many other countries, where CMC had seen a decline in currency trading.

"The New Zealand dollar is one of the few currencies actually moving," he said.

"Over the last six months we've had some of our lowest foreign exchange volume ever."

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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