UPDATE 1-NZ jobs surprise rules out rate cuts, tightening could be back sooner

 (Adds details, comment from analyst)
    By Praveen Menon
    WELLINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - New Zealand's jobless rate
dropped unexpectedly and wages expanded, ruling out prospects
for further central bank rate cuts and sparking talk that
monetary tightening may be back sooner than expected.
    The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.9% in
the December 2020 quarter from 5.3% in the September 2020
quarter, Statistics New Zealand said in its statement.
    That beat forecasts by economists polled by Reuters who had
expected an unemployment rate of 5.6%.
    The New Zealand dollar          rose a quarter of a cent on
the strong jobs data, as traders ruled out any rate cuts by the
Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ).
    "Thoughts of further RBNZ easing have turned to thoughts of
RBNZ tightening, via macro-prudential policy," said Jarrod Kerr,
Chief Economist at Kiwibank.
    Kerr said RBNZ has already tightened conditions by bringing
back mortgage lending 
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