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Risk and commodity sensitive currencies hit by increased fears around Euro union; Italy pays highest 5 year bond auction rate

Risk and commodity sensitive currencies hit by increased fears around Euro union; Italy pays highest 5 year bond auction rate

By Mike Burrowes


The NZD/USD came under pressure overnight as markets continued to fret about the European debt crisis. The NZD was among the worst performing currencies, taking its cue from sharp declines in industrial commodity prices and global equity markets. Overall NZD/USD lost around ¾ cents to 0.7510 currently.

Trading in the NZD against the EUR was choppy overnight. NZD/EUR jumped to a high around 0.5840 early this morning, but is now unchanged at 0.5780. The NZD/GBP continued to decline, falling from 0.4900 to 0.4860 currently.

The NZD/AUD showed some volatility, trading within a 0.7520 to 0.7580 range. For now, large option structures are capping any moves higher in the cross. Looking to the year ahead, we expect the cross to gradually appreciate to around 0.8500 by September next year.  

Looking to the day ahead, this morning we have the November update of the NZ Business PMI (previous 46.5).  Across the ditch we get consumer inflation expectations and vehicle sales.  On the day, initial support for NZD/USD is eyed at 0.7490 and resistance at 0.7580.


Risk aversion continued to climb overnight as investors fretted about the lack of a solution to the European debt crisis. This saw investors look to the safety of the USD and JPY and shun the risk/commodity sensitive currencies.

The ongoing concerns over the European debt crisis has continued to weigh on equity markets, with the S&P500 index and Euro Stoxx 50 index shedding 0.9% and 2.5% respectively. Our risk appetite index (scale 0 – 100%) dropped to 36.9% from 39.5%. Growth sensitive commodities were battered overnight, with copper and WTI oil plunging 5.0% and 4.3% respectively.

Markets remain very unimpressed with the fiscal integration plan announced at the EU summit on Friday. The lack of a credible solution to stem the crisis in the short-term, saw EUR/USD plunge to an overnight low around 1.2950. The declines in the EUR started after Italy paid a Euro era record of 6.47% on its new five-year bonds. The previous record was 6.30% in November. Weaker-than-expected Eurozone industrial production for October (1.3% vs. 2.1%y/y expected), and comments from Moody’s about the debt profile of banks in 2012, added to the dour sentiment.

Further weighing on sentiment were rumours that a French sovereign rating downgrade was imminent. However, S&P later rebuffed these rumours, noting it “has not warned France about possible downgrade”. The comments from S&P helped the EUR/USD recover to around 1.3000 currently.

As usual, in times of heightened risk aversion, investors have sought the safety of the USD and JPY. This has seen the USD index rise 0.2% to 80.50. The JPY held reasonably steady against the USD at 78.00.     

The GBP ended only slightly lower against the USD, currently trading around 1.5480. Helping to support the GBP was better-than-expected UK jobless claims for November (3k vs. 13.7k expected). Highlighting the broad-based weakness in the EUR, the EUR/GBP briefly hit a 10-month low, at 0.8370.

The risk sensitive AUD and NOK were among the weakest performing currencies against the USD. The AUD/USD has shed around 1 cent to 0.9920 currently. The USD/NOK gained 0.9% to 6.00. Adding to the weakness in the NOK, the Norwegian central bank lowered its policy rate by 50bps to 1.75%. Prior to the decision, markets were pricing around a 25% chance of a 25bp cut.

Looking to the day ahead, the market will be looking to PMI manufacturing data for the Eurozone to get a better guide on whether manufacturing activity continues to contract. A further decline in Eurozone CPI (released tonight) will give the ECB more scope to ease monetary policy. In the UK, we have retails sales due for release. In the US, we have the empire manufacturing survey, Philadelphia Federal business survey, industrial production and PPI.

Mike Burrowes is part of the BNZ research team. 

All its research is available here.

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Ah the Euro, collapse by Feb 2012 I reckon, must be real thin paper papering over the cracks, it lasted only 1 week.