Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said: The outlook for the New Zealand economy remains consistent with the projections underlying the December Monetary Policy Statement.
Domestic economic activity was weaker than forecast through the second half of 2010. September quarter GDP declined unexpectedly, and retail spending appears to have fallen in the December quarter.
Forward indicators of activity have firmed somewhat. Trading partner activity continues to expand and New Zealand’s export commodity prices have increased further. Within New Zealand, business confidence, across a range of industries, has picked up and imports of capital equipment have grown. Furthermore, there are tentative signs that housing market activity has stabilised, after having trended lower for some months.
The recent increase in the rate of GST has caused headline CPI inflation to spike higher as expected, but underlying inflation remains comfortably inside the target band.
As noted previously, while interest rates are likely to increase modestly over the next two years, for now it seems prudent to keep the OCR low until the recovery becomes more robust and underlying inflationary pressures show more obvious signs of increasing.”