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Kiwi falls as Europeans struggle over debt deal

The New Zealand dollar fell after stock markets faltered on news European finance chiefs were still at loggerheads over granting Greece its next round of bailout cash.

The kiwi fell to 82.14 US cents at 8.30am in Wellington from 82.40 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index declined to 73.50 from 73.73.

Stocks on Wall Street and in Europe fell, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index down 0.5% and France's CAC 30 falling 0.8% as eurozone finance ministers failed to cut a deal giving Greece its next tranche of an emergency loan.

The major sticking point appears to be whether the official sector, including the European Central Bank, will have to take a haircut on their Greek bond holdings. Earlier this year, the heavily indebted Mediterranean nation secured a 130 billion euro bailout to stave off default in exchange for harsh budget cuts.

"Markets are playing the waiting game still on Greece and investors' patience is starting to wear thin," says Mike Jones, currency strategist at Bank of New Zealand in Wellington. "Without any concrete agreement over Greece, it's clearly negative for market sentiment and currencies."

Markets are also waiting on the outcome of talks in the US between the Democrat-controlled White House and Republican-dominated House of Representatives to resolve the $US607 billion fiscal cliff of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts which kick in on January 1.

"It looks like that story will drag on through December and into January and the markets are readjusting earlier optimistic view on that," Mr Jones says.

Local trade figures are expected to show New Zealand's imports outweighed exports by $536 million in October, according to a Reuters survey of economists. If the deficit is smaller than expected, that could stoke demand for the kiwi dollar.

The Reserve Bank's survey of inflation expectations is also scheduled for release today and will likely show New Zealand financial institutions pared back their outlook for price increases after a consumer price index in the third quarter.

The kiwi fell to 63.37 euro cents from 63.57 cents yesterday and slid to 51.29 British pence from 51.42 pence. It dropped to 78.55 Australian cents from 78.74 cents yesterday and sank to 67.49 yen from 67.77 yen.

(BusinessDesk)

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