HomeContributorsFundamental AnalysisNZD/USD Edges Higher as Retail Sales Beat Expectations

NZD/USD Edges Higher as Retail Sales Beat Expectations

  • New Zealand retail sales flatline in Q3
  • US releases PMIs later today

The New Zealand dollar has posted slight gains on Friday. In the European session, NZD/USD is trading at 0.6059, up 0.17%. The New Zealand dollar is headed to a second-straight winning week and has sparkled in November, with gains of 4% against the US dollar.

New Zealand retail sales unchanged

The New Zealand consumer hasn’t been in the mood to spend and the markets were braced for a decline in third-quarter retail sales. The news was better than expected, however, as retail sales were flat at 0.0% q/q, breaking a streak of three straight losing quarters. The improvement in retail sales points to resilience in the New Zealand economy.

On an annual basis, retail sales came in at -3.4%, little changed from the second-quarter reading of -3.5%. The sharp decline is a result of the central bank’s aggressive tightening and an inflation rate of 5.6%, which is very high and well above the 1%-3% target band.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand meets on November 29th and is expected to leave the cash rate unchanged at 5.5%. The RBNZ has held rates three straight times and market speculation is rising that the RBNZ will pivot and trim rates in 2024. The RBNZ is unlikely to send any signals about cutting rates, however, especially with inflation well above the target.

I expect the RBNZ to maintain its ‘higher for longer’ policy, which would mean further rate pauses well into 2024. This would provide RBNZ policy makers the flexibility to raise rates if inflation unexpectedly rises or to trim rates once inflation drops closer to 3%, which is the top of the target range, without risking a loss of credibility.

The US wraps up with the release of US manufacturing and services PMIs, with little change expected. Still, the markets will be watching carefully, as the data will provide insights into the strength of the US economy. The consensus estimates for November stand at 49.8 for manufacturing (Oct: 50.0) and 50.4 for services (Oct. 49.8). If either of the PMIs miss expectations, that could translate into volatility from the US dollar in the North American session.

NZD/USD Technical

  • NZD/USD continues to put pressure on resistance at 0.6076. The resistance line 0.6161
  • There is support at 0.5996 and 0.5885

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