The Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept its official cash rate unchanged at record low of 1.75 percent on 21 March 2018, as widely expected. The central bank last moved the key rate in November of 2016. Policymakers underscored that global economic growth continued to gradually improve, albeit weaker than expected GDP growth in the fourth quarter, mainly due to weather effects on agricultural production. In addition, although recognizing that inflation remains subdued, the policy statement now highlighted some signs of emerging pressures, namely: an increase in commodity and agricultural prices.
The central bank also stated that monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period, as numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly. Consumer prices rose 1.6 percent year-on-year in Q4, below expectations of 1.9 percent and 1.9 percent in the previous period. It was the lowest quarterly inflation in a year.
Statement by Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer:
The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 1.75 percent.
The outlook for global growth continues to gradually improve. While global inflation remains subdued, there are some signs of emerging pressures. Commodity prices have continued to increase and agricultural prices are picking up. Equity markets have been strong, although volatility has increased. Monetary policy remains easy in the advanced economies but is gradually becoming less stimulatory.
GDP was weaker than expected in the fourth quarter, mainly due to weather effects on agricultural production. Growth is expected to strengthen, supported by accommodative monetary policy, a high terms of trade, government spending and population growth. Labour market conditions are projected to tighten further.
Residential construction continues to be hindered by capacity constraints. The Kiwibuild programme is expected to contribute to residential investment growth from 2019. House price inflation remains moderate with restrained credit growth and weak house sales.
CPI inflation is expected to weaken further in the near term due to softness in food and energy prices and adjustments to government charges. Tradables inflation is projected to remain subdued through the forecast period. Non-tradables inflation is moderate but is expected to increase in line with a rise in capacity pressure. Over the medium term, CPI inflation is forecast to trend upwards towards the midpoint of the target range. Longer-term inflation expectations are well anchored at 2 percent.
Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period. Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly.
3/21/2018 8:41:58 PM