WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The Reserve Bank of New Zealand's focus has shifted to external risks, including U.S. protectionism, and away from domestic issues, a top central banker told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

Earlier, the RBNZ held interest rates steady and signaled that a further cut in interest rates was no longer likely.

Assistant Governor John McDermott told Reuters the market's reaction to the rate decision was "exactly what we wanted." The New Zealand dollar <NZD=D4> dropped 0.8 percent to a 2-1/2 week low of $0.7202 on Thursday.

(Reporting by Jane Wardell and Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Randy Fabi)