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NZD near 3-Month Low, Aussie Weakens as Oil Underperforms

SYDNEY, March 23 (Reuters) - The New Zealand dollar on Tuesday hovered near its lowest levels this year as investors bet measures to cool its red-hot housing market will lessen the likelihood of rate hikes, while continued weakness in commodity markets hit the Aussie dollar.

The kiwi dollar weakened 0.8% to $0.7105 against the greenback, a level it has only breached four times this year and less than a 10th of a cent away from its 2021 trough of $0.7097.

The Australian dollar was down 0.41% at $0.7713 during midday trading, reversing previous session’s gains that were driven by an easing in 10-year U.S. bond yields.

Oil prices were more than 1% lower on Tuesday on concerns that new pandemic curbs and slow vaccine rollouts in Europe will dampen a recovery in fuel demand and as producers cut prices, indicating ample oil supply.

“We have seen some of the commodity markets still underperforming after the sell-off in oil on Thursday, and that has really hit some of these commodity-related currencies such as the Aussie, the kiwi and the Canadian dollar,” said Steven Dooley, APAC currency strategist at Western Union Business Solutions.

New Zealand on Tuesday introduced a raft of measures to cool its housing market, slugging investors with higher taxes and promising to boost supply, which should take off some of the pressure on the central bank to hike rates, strategists said.

“This will add caution around official cash rate hikes via less-than-otherwise housing-induced domestic momentum,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp analysts said.

New Zealand government bonds rose with yields about 5-9 basis points lower at the shorter end of the curve, and the 10-year bond yield falling 7 basis points to 1.715%, the lowest since March 12.

The Australian 10-year government bond yield was unchanged at 1.75% while the futures contract was three ticks higher at 98.225, implying a yield of 1.77%.

There was little in the economic calendar on Tuesday but traders will be focused on fresh comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen due at a Congressional hearing later in the day.

(Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

Source: Reuters

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