NZ dollar hovers near top of recent range as hopes rise -

The New Zealand dollar is treading water near the top of its recent range on speculation the US Federal Reserve will either slow down or pause further rate hikes and hopes for a positive outcome to United States-China trade talks.

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 67.44 US cents at 5pm in Wellington compared with 67.54 at 8.30am. The trade-weighted index rose to 73.31 points from 73.28.

Matthew Herbert, a dealer at Bank of New Zealand, said slightly weaker than expected data from the US Institute of Supply Management added weight to the Fed slow-down theme. Major equity markets are also showing a slight improvement in sentiment.

“Any sort of recovery is being viewed quite positively,” he said.

Japan’s Nikkei Index was up about 0.8 percent late this afternoon. The S&P 500 Index futures have ticked up a little after the physical market closed 0.7 percent higher this morning.

That’s in contrast to sharp swings - several percentage points up and down - in the S&P 500 last week, sparked in part by Apple reporting a downturn in December quarter sales in China.

Investors are also hoping for progress on trade talks between the US and China, where growth is slowing. Today, Apple's Korean rival Samsung cited poor sales in China for a 29 percent fall in December quarter profit.

Talks in Beijing between US and Chinese trade officials are in their second day. Lu Kang, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, was reported as saying China will work “in good faith” to resolve trade tensions with the US.

In Washington, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he sees “a very good chance that we will get a reasonable settlement.”

Over the weekend, Fed chair Jerome Powell both defended his political independence and reassured financial markets that the Fed will be “patient” about raising interest rates.

The kiwi dollar edged up to 94.61 Australian cents from 94.53 this morning but eased to 52.85 British pence from 52.90. It rose to 58.95 euro cents from 58.82, to 73.41 yen from 73.31, and to 4.6229 Chinese yuan from 4.6266.

The New Zealand two-year swap rate ended the session at 1.9350 percent from 1.9325 yesterday; the 10-year rate rose to 2.6275 percent from 2.6150.

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