Financial markets have not enjoyed an auspicious start to the new year. A sell-off in the Shanghai stock market unnerved investors, as did the Chinese authorities' clumsy efforts to support equity prices and an 11-year low for oil.

The result has been a flight to quality, with investors seeking refuge in the safe-haven currencies, including the euro and the US dollar, and offloading those related to energy and commodities. The NZ dollar was one of the hardest-hit. It narrowly missed out on the wooden spoon, which went to the South Africa rand. Over the week it lost a cent and a half to the Australian dollar and two US cents - 3%.

Sterling, meanwhile, has been held back by evaporating hopes of higher UK interest rates and uncertainty about the looming referendum on Britain's continued EU membership. That has limited its progress against the Kiwi to under four cents, 1.7%.