NZ dollar falls as investors flee to safety over pandemic fears

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The New Zealand dollar fell as foreign investors cash in their holdings in a flight to safety amid the worsening coronavirus crisis.

The kiwi was trading at 59.60 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, off the day’s low at 59.13 – its lowest since May 2009 – and down from 60.50 at the same time yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 68.21 points from 68.84.

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“People are repatriating offshore investments back to the US. That’s what’s going on. We’re just seeing holus-bolus getting out of everything,” said Tim Kelleher, head of foreign exchange sales at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The currency had recovered a little as some exporters took out currency cover and the Australian dollar had similarly bounced off its lows, Kelleher said.


However, the kiwi/Aussie cross continues to move closer to parity. The domestic currency was trading at 98.99 Australian cents at 5pm, off the day’s high at 99.38, from 98.82 at the same time yesterday.

While new infections with the covid-19 virus in China, where the disease began in December, have slowed to a trickle, they are increasing exponentially in Europe, particularly in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

Worldwide infections total 198,426, with those outside of China overtaking its 80,894 cases, and deaths are approaching 8,000.

More and more countries are now instituting partial or full shutdowns while international travel is rapidly diminishing.

Auckland International Airport reported that international traveller numbers on Monday were down 44 per cent from a year earlier and that international passenger numbers in the seven days ended March 16 were down 25 per cent on the same week a year earlier.

And United Airlines has announced further cuts to both domestic US flights and international flights.

United has cut flights within the US and Canada by 42 per cent and international flights by 85 per cent.

However, the US airline said it will operate about 45 daily flights in April throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Latin America, including daily flights out of Washington Dulles airport to London and out of New York/Newark to Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Mumbai, New Delhi and Tel Aviv.


The New Zealand dollar was trading at 49.19 British pence from 49.37 yesterday, at 54.03 euro cents from 54.15, at 63.86 yen from 64.68 and at 4.1775 Chinese yuan from 4.2343.

The bid price on the two-year swap rate rose to 0.7154 per cent from 0.6914 yesterday while 10-year swaps climbed to 1.2800 per cent from 1.1850 per cent.