The New Zealand dollar firmed as investors await further developments on the coronavirus crisis, particularly new cases being reported as governments ramp up testing.
The kiwi was trading at 63.13 US cents at 5:15pm in Wellington from 62.97 cents at 5pm yesterday, and has gained about half a cent since last Friday when it closed in New York at 62.51 cents. The trade-weighted index rose to 70.04 points from 69.87 yesterday.
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Since Tuesday, coronavirus cases have risen from less than 91,000 in 76 countries to 98,422 in 90 countries. The death toll has risen from at least 3,125 to 3,385.
This week, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash rate by 25 basis points to 0.5 per cent, the Federal Reserve cut its funds rate by 50 points to between 1 per cent and 1.25 per cent and the Bank of Canada also cut its key rate by 50 points.
Overnight, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said his bank was trying to estimate the likely impact of the virus on Britain's economy. He was coordinating with the Treasury and international partners to deliver a "powerful and timely" response to the outbreak.
"With this concerted central bank response, it's not clear what should be happening to currencies," said Pat Gilligan, a director at advisory firm Forex.
"It's a bit of a race to the bottom," but all currencies can't fall at the same time. The kiwi and Aussie dollars are probably being propped up by the Fed's move this week, he said.
Because the European Central Bank has said it wasn't planning a monetary policy response, the euro is being treated as "a proxy safety trade," Gilligan said.
But that's probably because its key interest rate is already at negative 0.5 per cent and it's out of firepower.
The ECB's next monetary policy meeting is scheduled for March 12 – New Zealand's is scheduled for March 25.
The New Zealand dollar was trading at 56.19 euro cents at 5:15pm from 56.52 yesterday and 56.91 last Friday.
Gilligan said Iceland had recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases per capita, "but that's only because they're doing the most testing."
Other countries are now beefing up testing, notably the US, which hasn't had an effective test until recently and the White House has acknowledged it doesn't have sufficient test kits to meet demand.
But that makes it almost inevitable that the number of cases will rise steeply.
The latest news in New Zealand is that the number of cases has reached four and that one of those people had attended a rock concert in Auckland last Friday when he may have been infectious.
The New Zealand dollar was trading at 95.59 Australian cents at 5:15 from 95.09 cents yesterday. It was at 48.69 British pence from 48.92, at 66.79 yen from 67.57, and at 4.3906 Chinese yuan from 4.3678.
The bid price on the two-year swap rate rose to 0.6980 per cent from 0.6933 yesterday while the 10-year swaps sank to 1.0075 per cent from 1.0950 per cent.