The Australian and NZ dollars weakened against their major counterparts in the Asian session on Friday, while the Japanese yen jumped, as Asian shares fell on fears over the global spread of new COVID-19 variant that was first identified in South Africa and its impact on the global economy.
Hong Kong found two cases of the new coronavirus strain. The U.K. and Israel temporarily suspended flights from six African countries to prevent the spread of the variant.
In Asia, airlines and other travel shares led the decline, as worries intensified about the likelihood of further travel restrictions from more countries.
Oil prices retreated on fears that transmission of the new virus variant would hurt demand growth.
The variant, known as the B.1.1.529, was found to be different from previous versions and pose great concern, Scientists warned.
It has an unusually high number of mutations and the World Health Organization has scheduled a meeting today to assess the new variant.
The aussie depreciated to more than a 3-month low of 0.7131 against the greenback and a 1-1/2-month low of 81.62 against the yen, down from its prior highs of 0.7190 and 82.94, respectively. The aussie may locate support around 0.70 against the greenback and 80.00 against the yen.
Reversing from its early highs of 1.5567 against the euro and 0.9095 against the loonie, the aussie dipped to more than a 2-week low of 1.5739 and a fresh 6-month low of 0.9069, respectively. If the aussie falls further, it is likely to test support around 1.61 against the euro and 0.89 against the loonie.
The aussie pulled back to 1.0455 against the kiwi, from a high of 1.0490 seen at 6:00 pm ET. On the downside, 1.03 is possibly seen as its next support level.
The kiwi touched more than a 3-month low of 0.6815 against the greenback, 1-1/2-month lows of 78.04 against the yen and 1.6476 against the euro, retreating from its previous highs of 0.6860, 79.09 and 1.6330, respectively. The kiwi is seen finding support around 0.66 against the greenback, 76.00 against the yen and 1.66 against the euro.
The yen recovered from its early lows of 153.68 against the pound, 123.28 against the franc and 115.36 against the greenback, climbing to a 1-1/2-month high of 152.21, 4-day highs of 122.75 and 114.45, respectively. Next key resistance for the yen is seen around 149.00 against the pound, 120.00 against the franc and 112.00 against the greenback.
The yen hit 1-week highs of 128.46 against the euro and 89.84 against the loonie, following its prior lows of 129.29 and 91.18, respectively. The yen is likely to test resistance around 126.00 against the euro and 88.00 against the loonie.