The New Zealand dollar approached a 17-month high against the dollar before the release of data forecast to show unemployment declined in the South Pacific island nation.
The Australian dollar fell against the majority of its 16 most-traded peers after the central bank said the inflation outlook allowed scope for further interest-rate cuts. Both the Australian and New Zealand dollars surged to four-year highs against the yen after Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa announced that he will exit his post on March 19, almost three weeks before his term was due.
The Aussie “surged to new 2008 highs against the yen as hearty investor appetite for risk helped overshadow expectations of still lower Reserve Bank lending rates this year,” wrote Joe Manimbo, a market strategist at Western Union Business Solutions, in a note to clients. “Against a resurgent euro and a strong kiwi dollar, however, the Aussie turned lower.”
The New Zealand dollar, nicknamed the kiwi, gained 0.2 percent to 84.47 cents per U.S. dollar yesterday in New York after touching 84.66, almost the highest since September 2011. The kiwi gained 1.5 percent to 79.05 yen after reaching 79.15, the most since 2008. The Aussie fell 0.5 percent to $1.0391, and gained 0.8 percent to 97.24 yen after touching 97.44, the strongest also since 2008.
Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 raw materials rose 0.4 percent.
The kiwi rose as New Zealand’s unemployment rate was forecast to decline to 7.1 percent from 7.3 percent, according to median forecast of eight economists polled by Bloomberg News.
The Australian dollar slid after the central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the half-century low of 3 percent. Interest-rate swaps data compiled by Bloomberg show traders see a 53 percent chance the RBA will lower its benchmark rate at its next meeting on March 5.
The yen weakened after Shirakawa told reporters in Tokyo that he would leave at the same time as two deputy governors on March 19, accelerating a leadership transition that may aid Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign for aggressive easing. He was scheduled to step down on April 8.
“The early departure of Shirakawa means that the early April Bank of Japan meeting is going to be significant,” Vassili Serebriakov, a foreign-exchange strategist at BNP Parnibas SA in New York, said in a telephone interview.
The Aussie fell 1.2 percent during the past three months among the 10 developed-nation currencies monitored by the Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes. The kiwi gained 1.1 percent. The yen fell 17 percent to lead decliners while the greenback dropped 1.6 percent.