8 Oct 2009

NZ dollar continues climb

11:16 pm on 8 October 2009

The New Zealand dollar leapt higher on Thursday against a range of currencies following more good economic news in Australia.

A strong jobs report across the Tasman pushed the Kiwi over US74 cents.

Official figures showing 40,000 jobs were created in Australia after job losses had been expected took markets by surprise.

The reason that improves the Kiwi is because New York-based currency traders tend not to distinguish between New Zealand and Australia, believing the drivers of the two economies are similar.

The currency was on the rise before the jobs report, due to Westpac Bank's loss in a $961 million tax case which will reduce New Zealand's balance of payments deficit.

The Kiwi also hit a 15-month high against the Greenback but was down against the Australian dollar.

Against the British pound, the Kiwi reached a fresh post-float high of 46.4 pence.

Traders expect more gains against the Sterling if a Bank of England meeting on Thursday sticks to its policy of printing money to aid the British economy.

Exporters hit

As the New Zealand dollar reaches its highest level against the British pound in 25 years, exporters are being urged to seek new markets to help cope with the rising currency.

The high dollar is reducing demand for New Zealand beef and lamb, and forecasts that it will reach US80 cents or more are dire for farmers, according to Federated Farmers.

Silver Fern Farms sales and marketing manager Glenn Tyrell says Britain is New Zealand's largest sheep meat market, taking more than 80,000 tonnes of produce a year, and if the that currency movement is sustained, the impact will be significant.

The Meat and Wool Economic Service says the exchange rate will wipe out most of the gains made in export lamb prices in the past year, if the New Zealand dollar holds at current levels against other currencies.

Tourism Industry Association chief executive Tim Cossar says tour operators are targeting new markets not priced in dollars or pounds, such as Asia and South America.

Anthony Byett from FX Matters told Morning Report that it is not only the weak US and British currencies pushing up the New Zealand currency, but the strong Australian dollar.

Dairy industry still benefits

The New Zealand economy is still expected to benefit from higher dairy prices, despite the stronger New Zealand dollar wiping out some of the gains.

The average selling price for whole milk powder at Fonterra's monthly auctions has increased by almost 60% over the last three auctions, reaching $US3,022 a tonne.

Fonterra global trade managing director Kelvin Wickham says the weakness in the US currency wipes about 20% of the gain, but overall prices are still significantly higher than three months ago.

Mr Wickham believes the price level is sustainable.