The New Zealand dollar gained on renewed optimism in equities markets and after no new coronavirus infections were reported here for a second day.

The kiwi was trading at 60.66 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 60.24 cents at the same time yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 68.54 from 68.21.

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"The equities market held its own overnight" in the US, said Tim Kelleher, head of foreign exchange sales at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The US futures market is also slightly higher today with investors betting that the US economy will start recovering as a number of states lift stay-at-home orders which were an attempt to stop Covid-19 from spreading.


New infections in the US did fall slightly today but still numbered 24,713, while deaths are just shy of 70,000 with 1,324 more people dying in the 24 hours to 1pm, New Zealand time.

The optimism in the US equities markets was despite the New York Times reporting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting the daily death toll will rise to 3,000 by the beginning of June as a direct result of states reopening their economies.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged Kiwis to double-down on their efforts to prevent contagion by practicing social distancing.

"Don't do anything that snatches our potential victory at this point," Ardern said.

New Zealand's number of infections actually reduced by one to 1,486 after a probable case was reclassified. The death toll here remained at 20, or four per million people, compared with the US rate of 211 per million.

Late today, the Reserve Bank of Australia delivered its latest view on monetary policy, keeping its settings where they were, including the targets for the cash rate and the yield on three-year Australian Government bonds at 0.25 per cent.

While the statement contained nothing market moving, "it's certainly given a bit more clarity" on such matters as the RBA continuing to purchase bonds as it deems necessary, Kelleher said.

RBA governor Philip Lowe said the functioning of government bond markets had improved, so the central bank scaled back the size and frequency of its bond purchases which have totalled about A$50 billion ($53.1b) to date.


"The bank is prepared to scale-up these purchases again and will do whatever is necessary to ensure bond markets remain functional and to achieve the yield target," Lowe said.

The New Zealand dollar was trading at 93.96 Australian cents from 94.29 cents at 5pm yesterday It was at 48.64 British pence from 48.40, at 55.60 euro cents from 55.06, at 64.67 yen from 64.28 and at 4.2841 Chinese yuan from 4.2524.

The bid price on the two-year swap rate closed at 0.1830 per cent from 0.1450 yesterday and the 10-year swaps were at 0.6930 per cent from 0.6775.