The New Zealand dollar eased further but appeared to be consolidating in the wake of fears about the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

The kiwi was trading at 65.33 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, off the day's low at 65.28 cents but down from 65.43 cents this time yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 72.04 points from 72.18.

See live rates for the NZ-US $ below. Click for more information:NzForex Foreign Exchange Transfers

The currency has declined from 67.37 US cents on January 2.

The death toll in China from the coronavirus has reached at least 132 with almost 6,000 people infected, up from 100 and 4,500 yesterday.


The government there has placed about 50 million people in the Hubei province in quarantine, preventing travel into or out of the province, although there are already plenty of cases elsewhere in China.

"The market's at a place where it's happy to consolidate," said Martin Rudings, an adviser at OMF. Some people have taken comfort from the fact that some people have recovered from the virus, he said.

"The market is definitely looking for such signs. I still think the worst is yet to come in terms of the death toll and the number of cases," Rudings said.

The virus was first identified in Hubei's provincial capital, Wuhan, in December and is thought to have originated in a market selling wild animals as meat for human consumption.

Chinese state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying that "the virus is a devil and we cannot let the devil hide."

Rudings said the severity of the reaction from financial markets is "really just fear of the unknown. It's hard to know if we're getting the right numbers."

No cases in New Zealand have been confirmed as yet.

Slightly stronger than expected inflation data in Australia helped put a floor under the Australian dollar and reduced to negligible market expectations of a rate cut on February 4 when the Reserve Bank of Australia next meets.


The Australian consumer price index rose to 1.8 per cent for calendar 2019 compared with expectations of 1.7 per cent. The RBA's preferred measure was unchanged at 1.6 per cent.

"It's still below trend," Rudings said. "Although the traders in the market want something to react to, I don't think it's enough for me to rush into the market and buy Aussie."

The New Zealand dollar was at 96.38 Australian cents from 96.80 cents yesterday. It was at 50.17 British pence from 50.11, at 59.30 euro cents from 59.37, unchanged at 71.32 yen and at 4.5175 Chinese yuan from 4.5392.

Interest rates steadied too, with the two-year swap rate rising to a bid price of 1.1693 per cent from 1.1349 yesterday. The 10-year swaps rose to 1.5175 per cent from 1.4550.