RBNZ Keeps Rates Steady; Retains Neutral Stance

RBNZ Keeps Rates Steady; Retains Neutral Stance

RBNZ Keeps Rates Steady; Retains Neutral Stance

The official cash rate was held at 1.75 percent for the fifth consecutive review, with the statement nearly a carbon copy of the one issued in June, with low inflation and a cooling housing market keeping the bank on the sidelines.

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler has held interest rates steady, as expected, and reaffirmed that any rises are at least two years away.

The RBNZ doesn't project higher rates until the third quarter of 2019, according to its forecasts released in the accompanying monetary policy statement, in line with its previous predictions.

Wheeler said a lower New Zealand dollar was needed to increase tradables inflation and to help deliver more balanced growth.

The RBNZ has been balancing a nascent recovery in inflation against the demands of a frothy housing market, which is now showing some signs of cooling thanks to loan-to-value restrictions and banks lifting mortgage rates independent of the official cash rate.

The central bank also said a lower New Zealand dollar would be favourable.

But a projection supplied by the bank still points to increases from 2019.

The central bank scaled back its forecast for inflation for the next three quarters by about half a percentage point, predicting annual consumer price index inflation of 1.6 percent in the September quarter and 1.3 percent in December and falling to 0.7 percent in March next year, back below the RBNZ's 1-to-3 percent target band.

"There's much greater competition in non-tradeable space in terms of a lot of what we thought was non-tradable inflation are now much more tradable in terms of global education, health, construction, retailing, we've seen a technology revolution in oil and gas sector and there's a lot of writing now about the gig economy", he told media earlier in the day. The NZD exchange rate narrative was strengthened only slightly: "The trade-weighted exchange rate has increased since the May Statement, partly in response to a weaker United States dollar".

Governor Graeme Wheeler, who retires next month, said economic growth was expected to improve in the coming months supported by strong population growth and the government spending detailed in the May budget.

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