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FOREX-Dollar up against yen on data, NZ dollar near 2-1/2 year high
March 27, 2014 / 3:00 PM / 3 years ago

FOREX-Dollar up against yen on data, NZ dollar near 2-1/2 year high

* U.S. GDP data revised higher

* U.S. jobs data stronger-than-expected

* New Zealand dollar hovers near 2 1/2-yr high (Updates prices, adds analyst comments, changes byline, dateline; previous LONDON)

By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - The dollar edged higher against the euro and the yen on Thursday after upbeat U.S. economic data, while the New Zealand dollar hovered near a 2-1/2-year high after economic data and hints that the country’s central bank could raise interest rates.

The Commerce Department said U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product rose at a 2.6 percent annual rate, up from the 2.4 percent pace reported last month. The Labor Department, meanwhile, said initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest since November.

The data put the U.S. Federal Reserve “squarely on pace” to continue cutting its monthly asset purchases and raise short-term interest rates in the first half of 2015, said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

Investors had bought the dollar last week after Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested the possibility of raising interest rates early next year, or about six months after its current bond-buying program ends.

The dollar got another boost against the euro on Tuesday, when European Central Bank policymakers hinted at a softening of monetary policy. The ECB holds its next policy meeting on April 3.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the dollar against six major currencies, was last up 0.02 percent at 80.047. The euro was last down 0.11 percent against the dollar at $1.3766, while the dollar was last up 0.15 percent against the Japanese yen at 102.2.

The New Zealand dollar hovered near a a 2-1/2 year high of $0.8680, which it hit earlier in the day on a sharp rise in the country’s trade surplus for February and a policymaker’s comments signaling that the country could tighten monetary policy further by raising interest rates.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand Deputy Governor Grant Spencer said the limits on low deposit, high risk home loans were worth up to 50 basis points in interest rate hikes, which began to rise from record lows earlier this month.

He also said the lending limits, imposed in October, had reduced upwards pressure on the New Zealand dollar, and stressed that they were not intended to be permanent.

“Spencer’s comments are consistent with an outlook for rising interest rates in New Zealand,” said Esiner of Commonwealth.

The Norwegian crown rose to a 10-day high against the euro , meanwhile, after the country’s central bank kept its rate path unchanged for 2014 and 2015, wrongfooting some investors who had expected it to flag the chance of looser monetary conditions.

While the Norwegian central bank’s comments drove up the Norwegian crown on the day, the central bank’s policy statements are volatile and could change in the near-term, said Axel Merk, chief investment officer of Merk Investments in Palo Alto, CA. (Additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London)

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