Monday morning in Asia, the New Zealand dollar weakened against its major counterparts as a fall in the equity markets prompted investors to sell higher-yielding assets. The New Zealand dollar fell to multi-day lows against the US dollar and the Japanese yen during the session, while pared its recently reached multi-month high against the euro.
The New Zealand stock market was trading lower today following the negative cues from Wall Street Friday. In mid-morning trades, the benchmark NZX 50 Index was losing 19.00 points or 0.72% to 2,634.47 and the broader NZX All Capital Index was down 12.41 points or 0.46% to 2,675.01.
In economic news, the number of building permits issued in New Zealand was up 11.6% in February compared to the previous month, Statistics New Zealand said today. That follows a revised 13.0% monthly decline in January, which was originally reported as -13.1% on month. The seasonally adjusted number of new housing units authorized, excluding apartments, rose 0.3% in February 2009, but remains at a low level.
Another report by the Reserve Bank of NZ showed that New Zealand's M3 money supply grew 8.7% year-on-year in February, at a faster pace compared to a 6.9% rise in January. The M3 money supply totaled NZ$215,954 million in the month, up from NZ$214,419 million in January. The money supply was up 6% to NZ$198,643 million in the corresponding period last year.
The New Zealand currency slipped to a 5-day low of 0.565 against the US currency by 10:20 pm ET, compared to Friday's close of 0.5695. On the downside, support is seen at the 0.555 level for the NZ dollar. The kiwi-buck pair is presently worth 0.5654.
Against the Japanese yen, the New Zealand dollar declined to a 4-day low of 55.24 by 10:40 pm ET. The kiwi-yen pair that was worth 55.75 at last week's close is currently trading at 55.26. The next downside target for the pair is seen at the 54.6 level.
The yen rallied today despite the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that industrial output in Japan plummeted by 9.4 percent in February compared to the previous month. That was slightly worse than forecasts that called for a decline of 9.0 percent following the 10.2 percent decline in January.
On an annual basis, industrial output dropped 38.4 percent versus forecasts of a 38.1 percent decline after the 31.0 percent retreat in the previous month. Japanese companies' forecast for industrial output is up 2.9 percent in March and up 3.1 percent in April.
The New Zealand dollar also lost ground against the Australian dollar in early Asian trading today, slipping to 1.2213 by 10:35 pm ET. This may be compared to Friday's close of 1.2198. As of now, the aussie-kiwi pair is trading at 1.2185.
On the economic front, new home sales in Australia rose for a second consecutive month in February, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) said today, climbing 3.9 percent following an 8.3 percent monthly jump in January.
Against the 16-nation currency, the New Zealand dollar fell to 2.351 by 10:40 pm ET from a 2-1/2-month high of 2.3225 hit earlier in the session. The euro-kiwi pair that closed last week's deals at 2.3369 is currently quoted at 2.348.
Traders are now likely to focus on the upcoming session, in which the euro-zone business climate indicator, consumer confidence, economic, industrial and service confidence reports-all for the month of March are slated for release.
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