The New Zealand dollar fell as US stocks tumbled on concern America is running out of time to avert $US600 billion ($NZ730b) of tax hikes and spending cuts starting on January 1 that threaten to stall the world's biggest economy.
The kiwi dollar fell to 81.83 US cents from 81.89 cents at 5pm in Wellington on Thursday. The trade-weighted index fell to 73.46 from 73.53.
The greenback rose and stocks on Wall Street fell, sending the Standard & Poor's 500 Index down 1.1 per cent, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said an agreement between Democrats and Republicans before the year-end deadline seems unlikely.
Meanwhile, the yen has slipped to its weakest against the US dollar since August 2010 on the Japanese government's declaration that it is determined to weaken its currency.
"There's more and more fear as we get closer to the deadline that this isn't going to pass," said Alex Hill, senior currency strategist at HiFX. "It has been a big losing day for stocks markets so that's added to it."
Hill said there was potential for some volatility in the NZ dollar amid year-end squaring up in the thin market.
The kiwi dollar traded at 70.32 yen from 70.30 yen and fell to 78.91 Australian cents from 79.07 cents. It fell to 61.85 euro cents from 61.93 cents after reports showed an improvement in French consumer confidence and Italian business sentiment.
The local currency traded at 50.86 British pence from 50.80 pence on Thursday.