The New Zealand dollar fell more than a US cent today, taking its losses for the week to about two-and-a-quarter cents, as the rate of coronavirus infection around the world escalates.

Economic consequences, as more major events are cancelled and travel-related companies downgrade earnings forecasts, are also rising.

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The kiwi was trading at 61.27 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, up from the day's low at 60.83 cents but down from 62.58 cents this time yesterday. The domestic currency closed at 63.55 cants in New York last Friday.

The trade-weighted index fell to 69.11 points from 69.77.


The downward spiral escalated after US President Donald Trump on Wednesday banned travel from Europe for 30 days, even as the community-communicated cases within the US escalate. That's in the face of the US still lacking testing capability, suggesting the actual rate of infection there is much higher.

"I think with a lot of governments the reaction is knee-jerk," said Forex director Pat Gilligan. "I think everybody's battling with just how serious that community transmission's going to be and where it's going to end up."

Worldwide, the number of reported cases is nearing 135,000 in 127 countries and deaths are just below 5,000. In the US, there were another 446 cases confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the total there to 1,747.

A week ago, the global infection count was 91,000 in 76 countries with 3,385 deaths.

New Zealand has gotten off lightly so far with just five cases confirmed, all in Auckland, and no deaths.

Gilligan said that for many people the news yesterday that movie star Tom Hanks had contracted the virus in Australia and that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife had been infected had brought home the seriousness of the situation.

"For those people who were thinking it might not be a big disruption to their lives, these events have brought it home to them," he said.

While a number of sports groups in the US, such as college and professional basketball, have cancelled or postponed matches, Gilligan noted a number large-scale audience participation events in New Zealand, such as the Womad music festival and the Super Rugby match at Eden Park on Saturday, are still going ahead.


But the mayhem in financial markets is likely to get worse before it improves, he said, noting that the S&P 500 Index futures are off another 2.5 per cent after that index fell 9.5 per cent on Thursday.

"That's not going to help the kiwi and the Aussie, I wouldn't have thought," Gilligan said.

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 97.41 Australian cents at 5 pm from 96.84 cents yesterday. It was unchanged at 48.79 British pence, at 54.64 euro cents from 55.31, at 64.29 yen from 64.71, and at 4.2924 Chinese yuan from 4.3638.

The bid price on the two-year swap rate rose to 0.7730 per cent from 0.7218 yesterday while the 10-year swaps climbed to 1.1480 per cent from 1.0600 per cent.