New Zealand Raises Benchmark Rate


New Zealand’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for a second month to control inflation, and said the pace of future increases is likely to be slower than previously indicated.

The Reserve Bank today increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 3.0 percent.

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said: While the outlook for economic growth has softened somewhat, it is still appropriate to continue to reduce the extraordinary level of support implemented during the 2008/09 recession.

The world economy continues its fragile recovery. Trading partner growth has turned out stronger than we predicted, however, future prospects for growth have deteriorated. While still at high levels, our commodity prices have moderated.

In New Zealand, domestic demand is subdued. Households are cautious, with retail spending growing only modestly, housing turnover in decline and household credit growth weak. While this caution has been evident for some time, the recent slowing in net immigration will act to further dampen consumer spending. Business investment remains very low, with corporate lending continuing to be subdued.

The New Zealand dollar has appreciated in recent weeks. This appreciation is inconsistent with the softening in New Zealand’s economic outlook and moderation in our export commodity prices.

Overall, we continue to predict respectable near-term GDP growth, with manufacturing confidence remaining elevated and forestry exports continuing to expand. An eventual recovery in business investment will assist growth over the medium term.

Annual CPI inflation has been near 2 percent for the past five quarters. As the economy grows, inflationary pressures are expected to pick up.

Given this, some further removal of monetary policy stimulus is appropriate at this stage. Even after today’s move, the level of the OCR is still very supportive of economic activity. The pace and extent of further OCR increases is likely to be more moderate than was projected in the June Statement. Our policy assessment will be continually reviewed in light of economic and financial market developments.

The coming increase in the rate of GST and other government-related price changes are likely to temporarily push annual CPI inflation above 3 percent. The Bank does not expect this price spike to have a lasting impact on inflation. However, the price and wage setting behaviour of firms and households will be monitored for evidence of any increase in inflation expectations.”


TradingEconomics.com, RBNZ
7/28/2010 6:34:14 PM