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OCR unchanged

What the Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler said about interest rates.

Thursday, December 6th 2012, 9:00AM

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler said: “Economic growth has slowed in recent months and has been accompanied by low inflation and rising unemployment. However, over the next two years, growth is expected to accelerate to between 2.5 and 3 percent per annum.

“The global outlook remains soft but appears less threatening than was the case earlier in the year. The risk of severe near-term deterioration in the euro area has decreased and Chinese economic indicators have been more positive recently. However, uncertainty around the US fiscal position is constraining US growth.

“Repairs and construction in Canterbury continue to gather pace, and the housing market is strengthening, particularly in Auckland. Lower funding costs for New Zealand banks, along with increased competition for lending, have seen mortgage interest rates reduce.

“Dampening factors include the Government’s fiscal consolidation and continued cautiousness by households and businesses in their spending decisions. The high New Zealand dollar continues to be a significant headwind, restricting export earnings and encouraging demand for imports.

“The overall outlook is for stronger domestic demand and the elimination of current excess capacity by the end of next year. This is expected to cause inflation to rise gradually towards the 2 percent target midpoint.

“Monetary policy remains focused on keeping future average inflation near the 2 percent target midpoint. The Bank is closely monitoring indicators for any sign of further moderation and is mindful of recent downside surprises to employment and inflation outturns. With the reconstruction-driven pick-up in investment now clearly underway, the Bank will also continue to watch for a greater degree of inflation pressure than is assumed.

“On balance, it remains appropriate for the OCR to be held at 2.5 percent.”

Comments from our readers

On 6 December 2012 at 9:09 am talktoxins said:
Well long may the surge in prices continue in AUckland. This is good news for first home buyers
On 6 December 2012 at 10:40 am Amused said:
Overseas buyers paying well above market value are a major cause of Auckland's problems with respect to surging property prices. Given the tax incentive offshore buyers have in their home countries (i.e. China) this trend is unlikely to stop. The NZ Government needs to put a stop to this practice fast or else home ownership in Auckland will be a thing of the past for most Kiwis on an average income. Hearing stories that many such properties once purchased from offshore subsequently remain vacant is galling to say the least for anyone trying to find a home in Auckland currently. I am sure land agents will be up in arms should the current status quo be interrupted but we all know what agenda agents have and whose pockets they are thinking of!
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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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