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Fixed rates cut by 16 lenders

Thursday, March 3rd 2011, 3:52PM

The ripple effect of the Christchurch earthquake has been huge, with interest rates also feeling its effect this week as 16 lenders dropped fixed rates in the last three days. ANZ lead the charge and its changes can be seen in this graph.

This has been in response to the sudden drop in swap rates following the earthquake last week as market expectations around the Official Cash Rate (OCR) changed to predict a cut by the Reserve Bank. Even the Prime Minister John Key has said he expects to see interest rates cut next week.

Most of the lenders in response have dropped the one-year rate by 50 basis points among other changes and as a result the median for the major banks has fallen from 6.45% to 5.95%. The floating rate median is now higher at 6.20%.

We look at economist expectations for next week's Monetary Policy Statement and also analyse the December quarter mortgage book's of Kiwibank, ANZ, SBS and Westpac.

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Westpac predicting rates to rise faster than forecast

In its recently released quarterly economic overview report, Stephens writes that Westpac’s prediction is for 90-day interest rates to rise much faster than either the Reserve Bank or the market expects.

It picks the first move in interest rates to happen in June 2013, when it says the OCR will still be at 2.50%.

By 2014, Westpac expects 90-day rates to be 4%. By comparison, the RBNZ tips them to have barely moved at 2.75% and the swaps market implied pricing puts them even lower, at just over 2.50%.
By 2015, Westpac expects rates to be over 5%.

Stephens’ report said that the Christchurch rebuild would make it hard for New Zealand to avoid substantial inflation.

“The inflation figures suggest that central co-ordination of small to moderate repairs – the bulk of the activity to date – has been effective in limiting construction cost inflation. This is unlikely to remain the case as major repairs and rebuilds take over as the main form of activity.”

He pointed to the fact that new housing in the Canterbury region has already risen roughly 10% over the past year.

Stephens said he expected home loan rates to follow the same trajectory as 90-day rates. They might stay on hold for another year or so but then would have to rise.

“Floating rates may not rise quite as rapidly as 90-day rates because at the moment banks have to pay a higher margin to procure funds from overseas. That pressure might come off.”
But he said it was unrealistic to expect the current historic lows to continue past 2013.

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Disclaimer: Every possible effort has been made to keep the information in the rates tables as accurate as possible, however, neither the publishers of Mortgage Rates nor anyone engaged to compile these tables accept any liability for inaccuracies or any loss suffered as a result. It is strongly advised that readers check loan details directly with the provider concerned.

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