Thursday, March 24, 2016

Forex - Kiwi gains after narrower than expected trade gap - - The Kiwi gained in Asia on Thursday on trade figures with a light data day otherwise in the region.

NZD/USD rose 0.13% to 0.6712. AUD/USD traded at 0.7528, down 0.06%, while USD/JPY changed hands at 112.39, up 0.02%.

In New Zealand, the trade balance for February showed a deficit of NZ$3.32 billion year-on-year, narrower than expected, while it came in at a surplus of NZ$339 million month-on-month, well above the NZ$50 million seen.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was last quoted at 96.06.

Overnight, the dollar pushed higher against the other major currencies on Wednesday, even after data showed that U.S. new home sales rose less-than-expected in February, as hawkish comments by several Federal Reserve members continued to support the greenback.

The U.S. Commerce Department said new home sales rose by 2.0% to 512,000 units last month, compared to expectations for a 3.2% gain to 510,000 units.

But the greenback remained supported after Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said late Tuesday that the U.S. central bank should raise interest rates as early as next month if the U.S. economy continues to improve.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said he expects two more rate hikes before the years end, if the economy remains on track.

The comments came a day after Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart signaled that the Fed could hike interest rates in April.

Market sentiment remained under pressure after three explosions in Brussels killed 34 people and injured hundreds on Tuesday.

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