The New Zealand dollar rebounded after China's central bank demonstrated its willingness to prop up its banking system to the tune of 1.7 trillion yuan on Monday and Tuesday and by cutting interest rates, helping to calm global markets which had been plunging in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The kiwi was trading at 64.81 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, having earlier briefly broken through the 65 mark, from 64.61 at the same time yesterday while the trade-weighted index rose to 71.82 points from 71.58.
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The People's Bank of China said it would support liquidity in wholesale financial markets "during the period of epidemic prevention and control."
The PBOC also cut its seven-day reverse repo rate to 2.40 per cent from 2.50 per cent, and the 14-day rate to 2.55 per cent from 2.65 per cent
Mark Johnson, an adviser at OMF, said he isn't convinced markets have any reason to celebrate yet.
"I tend to feel that the reporting could be well shy of the mark" from China as to the extent of the casualties.
Even so, the numbers continue to climb – officially, China is saying those infected are approaching 25,000 and about 490 people have died of the coronavirus.
That's already significantly worse than the SARS outbreak which killed 774 people and infected 8,098 between November 2002 and July 2003.
"I don't feel we're comparing apples with apples," Johnson said. "We're still in the early stages. That's why I'm a little perplexed that the market's rebounding."
The headline fall in the local unemployment rate to 4 per cent in the December quarter and the revision of the September quarter number down to 4.1 per cent from 4.2 per cent had also cheered the markets until they checked the detail, Johnson said.
"It looked pretty good" but the zero growth in employment, less than the 0.3 per cent growth expected, and the drop in the participation rate to 70.1 per cent of the working-age population compared with the expected 70.4 per cent had dampened spirits somewhat.
Nevertheless, the jobs data is one more nail in the coffin putting paid to any hopes of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand cutting interest rates at its meeting next week.
Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe delivered a speech today, giving the impression that Australia's bush fires and the coronavirus crisis were just a temporary blip on economic growth, a day after leaving his cash rate unchanged.
The RBA is forecasting Australia's growth will step up to about 2.8 per cent this year and 3 per cent next year.
Johnson said the market has priced in a rate cut from the RBA in coming months. "I thought they could've made a case to bring that forward – Lowe did say the bank can see a case for further easing but that there are risks around that."
The New Zealand dollar was at 96.17 Australian cents from 96.22 yesterday, at 49.77 British pence from 49.70, at 58.74 euro cents from 58.44, at 70.95 yen from 70.22 and at 4.5391 Chinese yuan from 4.5239.
The two-year swap rate had a bid price of 1.1308 per cent from 1.0729 yesterday while 10-year swaps were at 1.4725 per cent from 1.3825.