By Alun John
HONG KONG (Reuters) - The New Zealand dollar rallied on Wednesday after the central bank reinforced its hawkish policy stance alongside its seventh straight rate hike, while the Australian dollar tumbled after wage growth data missed forecasts.
The news from the antipodes helped provide direction to markets that had been drifting ahead of the release of minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest meeting.
The kiwi gained 0.58% to $0.6377 after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand hiked rates by an expected 50 basis points, and pointed to the need to bring forward the timing of future rate increases.
Across the Tasman Sea, the Australian dollar fell as much as 0.5% after data showed Australian wage increases missed forecasts and lagged badly behind inflation. It has since pared those losses to trade down 0.2%, holding back just above the symbolic $0.7 level. [
Elsewhere, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six main peers, was at 106.39, steady in morning trade, having ended Tuesday largely unchanged.
The index has recovered most of the ground it lost last week after cooler-than-expected U.S. inflation but remains well off its mid July top of 109.29.
"The Fed's beef with the market in recent days and weeks has been that they (the Fed) don't subscribe to the market's view that it will be cutting rates in 2023," said Ray Attrill, global head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank.
"So if there are things in the minutes that push back against that notion, and that leads to a repricing of the U.S. rate curve for 2023, that could be a catalyst for a reversal of the U.S. dollar weakness that has characterised this last month or so."
He said that also of interest is whether the recent equity market rally would continue, as risk sentiment and the U.S. dollar had been negatively correlated in recent months.
The euro was steady at $1.0177 after squeezing out small gains overnight, and sterling was last fetching $1.2111.
The Japanese yen was at 134.1 in early Asia. The currency has been a major beneficiary of the softer dollar and firmed to as much as 131.7 per dollar last week, but has since given back some of those gains.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was back hovering around $24,000, down from a two month high of $25,200 hit Monday.
(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)