New Zealand dollar rises after hot retail sales data

The New Zealand dollar is in positive territory on Thursday. NZD/USD is up 0.38%, trading at 0.6120 in the European session at the time of writing. The New Zealand dollar showed some strength after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand rate decision on Wednesday, gaining as much as 1% and hitting a nine-week high. However, the New Zealand dollar couldn’t consolidate and gave up almost all of these gains.

New Zealand retail sales climb for first time in two years

New Zealand’s retail sales rose 0.5% q/q in the first quarter, which was itself an achievement after declining for eight straight quarters. This beat the market estimate of -0.3%. The turnaround was driven by a strong increase in the purchase of food and recreational goods. On a yearly basis, retail sales is still in a deep hole, with a 2.4% decline in Q1, following a 4.1% decline in the fourth quarter of 2023. This was a sixth consecutive quarter of a fall in retail spending.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand held the cash rate at 5.5% for a seventh straight time, as it sticks with its “higher for longer” rate policy. At the follow-up press conference, Orr noted that inflation expectations were falling and said it would take time for inflation to decline. Orr said that Bank members had discussed raising rates at the meeting, reiterating the policy statement. The RBNZ is concerned about high inflation and a rate cut does not look likely in the near-term.

FOMC minutes reflect Fed’s hawkish stance

With inflation falling around the globe, major central banks have been under pressure to lower interest rates. The central banks remain cautious, however, and the Fed minutes indicated that there was a discussion to raise rates at the May 1st meeting. The Fed is not the only player with a hawkish stance; the central banks of Australia and New Zealand held rates at their May meetings but indicated that members looked at the option of raising rates.

The FOMC minutes noted that policy makers are not confident about lowering rates at this stage and want to see more evidence that inflation falls closer to the 2% target. This message is consistent with what we have been hearing from a host of Fed members, although the markets have priced in a September rate cut.

NZD/USD Technical

  • NZD/USD is testing resistance at 0.6111. Above, there is resistance at 0.6139
  • 0.6069 and 0.6041 are the next support levels

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Kenny Fisher

Kenny Fisher

Market Analyst at OANDA
A highly experienced financial market analyst with a focus on fundamental and macroeconomic analysis, Kenny Fisher’s daily commentary covers a broad range of markets including forex, equities and commodities. His work has been published in major online financial publications including, Seeking Alpha and FXStreet. Kenny has been a MarketPulse contributor since 2012.