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Thursday, 15 September 2011 07:47

Next Downside Levels For NZDUSD

The RBNZ was noncommital on rates - touting domestic strength but expressing worries about the global economy. NZD dropped as risk appetite soured a bit in Asia. Today we look at possible downside targets for NZDUSD should key support give way.

The RBNZ's rate decision saw Bollard bemoaning the international economic risks, including the 'real risk that global economic activity slows sharply.' He also expressed worry about the potential for a rising cost of bank funding. On the domestic front, the strength of recent data was noted and Mr. Bollard indicated that New Zealand didn't need rates as low as the current cash rate but that the balance of domestic/international factors demanded a pass for now. Forward rate expectations eased a couple of bps, but the market continues to expect that the RBNZ will be the only bank among the G-10 currency central banks that will raise interest rates in the coming year.

While the New Zealand economy has been strong and given the currency a boost, we have to consider a couple of factors here on whether it will remain resilient. First, the tremendously strong weakening impulse of late across Asian currencies versus the US dollar has to be giving the kiwi bulls some pause, as the market seems to be (justifiably) questioning the prospects for near to medium term Asian growth. A continuation of this trend will be difficult for kiwi traders to ignore. Secondly, the kiwi also got a tremendous boost from China's announcement of investments in New Zealand earlier this year. Whether this source of capital flows will continue is an open question, but it has already served to give 'artificial support' relative to fundamental inputs like interest rate spreads as we show in the second chart below and further strength from these levels is certainly unwelcome from New Zealand's perspective.


The technical situation for NZDUSD is very interesting here, as we are facing a somewhat sloppy, but still relatively well defined head and shoulders formation with a neckline fast approaching, or already almost here depending on how the line is drawn between the mismatching points on the chart. Still, we seem to be in a pivot zone just below current levels at 0.8115. The next targets lower are the 200-day moving average currently around 0.7930 and then the bigger area lower is all the way down at 0.7340. Of course, to see this latter level come into play, we would likely either need further turmoil in Asia markets and/or the S&P500, for example to drop out of its current persistent range.

Chart: NZ vs. US 2-yr rates

The eroding of forward expectations for the RBNZ (NZ 2-yr rates have fallen some 50 basis points since late July and year forward rate expectations, according to a Credit Suisse index, have fallen some 65 bps over the same period. Some of the decoupling here between the NZDUSD's behavior and the rate spread has likely to do with China's interest in buying NZ assets. But looking back to February or so of this year on the chart, we can see that NZDUSD was trading below 0.75 at the current rate spread.

If we get an upside break in risk appetite in the days ahead (US FOMC meeting will be a critical event risk across global markets next Wednesday and judging from recent action, the market is extremely twitchy on ad hoc Europe-related developments), then we are perhaps more likely to see a scenario in which we first build another 'right shoulder' on the NZDUSD chart.

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