Where to for the Kiwi and shares?


A survey of exporters has found they believe there will be only a modest fall in the New Zealand dollar in the next twelve months.

The ASB quarterly survey of exporters and importers has found they think the Kiwi will be trading at 64.5 US cents by the end of March 2017.

Three months ago, respondents were forecasting that the Kiwi would be around 67 US cents by the end of March 2016. Instead the currency turned out to be stronger than expected, with the Kiwi starting the month of April at 69 US cents.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says the New Zealand dollar has proved to be very resilient, even in the face of further OCR cuts by the Reserve Bank.

He says "In contrast to the survey results, we see very limited scope for the NZD/USD to soften further."

The currency markets are notoriously hard to predict.

But exporters and importers have no choice but to try to predict where the Kiwi might go.

That is where "hedging" comes in. Businesses can opt to lock in a fixed price for the currency to try to remove some of the volatility from their international trading.

Mr Tuffley says "Generally, we're seeing New Zealand businesses getting better at hedging over time."

"The degree to which businesses protect themselves from exchange rates ultimately flows through to consumers by influencing the speed at which retail prices are impacted."

Mr Tuffley says it can also influence investment and employment decisions.

ASB says that as the New Zealand dollar eased through 2015 there was also a drop in the average length of time that businesses were choosing to hedge the currency.

Across all the businesses surveyed, 54.2 percent of hedging was for a duration of less than 6 months and only 8 percent of hedging was beyond 12 months. ASB says "This tendency to shorten duration was highest among large enterprises."

Mr Tuffley says businesses need to be wary of removing their hedging.

"The reality is, exchange rates are potentially volatile and often confound forecasts. If the New Zealand dollar moves substantially over the next year, then businesses that are caught on the wrong side of the move won't be prepared."

A higher dollar will not be welcomed by the Reserve Bank. So it is likely to add to the odds of another interest rate cut.

Most economists are picking that the OCR will be cut by 0.25 percent to 2 percent by the middle of the year. Some believe the OCR could be 1.75 percent by the end of the year.

Savers have already seen their deposit rates fall sharply and it is one of the reasons that more money is being poured into the New Zealand stock market.

The most profitable companies are offering dividends of around 6 percent. That is double what someone could find in a term deposit.

Yesterday the benchmark index, the NZX50, reached a new high, closing up 38 points at 6752 points. It has gained 6.2 percent for the first three months of the year.

That contrasts to a loss of 7.7 percent for European markets.

US stocks have wiped the losses that were seen in January and early February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P500 are set to finish the quarter 1.3 percent higher.

That is a rebound from losses of around ten percent in mid-February.

Investment advisers caution that many New Zealand stocks are starting to look expensive and investors should be cautious, especially if they were considering moving a lump sum into the market.