New Zealand's Reserve Bank leaves official cash rate unchanged
New Zealand's Reserve Bank leaves official cash rate unchanged
Reserve Bank keeps OCR at 1.75 per cent
11 August, 2017, 02:23
"We're still very much in the neutral stage where for the foreseeable future we don't see the OCR (official cash rate) increasing", said Wheeler, addressing his last monetary policy news conference before his five-year term ends next month. The staff projection continued to forecast the first rate hike to come in 2H19.
He has had a low-key approach to the job during his five years but was criticised by some commentators for the abortive rate rises in 2014 which had to be reversed as inflation fell to multi-year lows, and for giving what were interpreted as mixed signals and jumbled communications.
Reserve Bank of New ZealandNZ 796 Assistant Governor John McDermott said on Thursday that the central bank was "slightly more uncomfortable" with the level of the NZ dollar than it was in May. The kiwi has climbed more than 7 percent against the greenback since the RBNZ's last set of forecasts on May 11. As noted in the accompanying statement, "monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period". "Markets were primed for something slightly more dovish". In theory, the Reserve Bank should be able to use its Official Cash Rate and its forecasting ability to run the economy as fast as it can without generating inflation much faster than 2.0 percent. Swaps data show about an 80 percent chance of an increase by next August. With this statement, we expect a long pause from the RBNZ, unless the current global outlook changes materially, in terms of trade, commodity prices, and political uncertainties. But that was due to temporary influences such as food and fuel prices.
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.
The central bank said capacity pressures would gradually push non-tradables inflation higher and reiterated the risk of house prices rising again. Still, inflation will return to the midpoint of the target range "over the medium term".
Governor Graeme Wheeler said economic growth was expected to pick up in the coming months, supported by strong net migration, low interest rates and spending outlined in the May Budget.
Labour productivity shrank 0.1 percent in the 2017 March year after contracting 0.2 percent in 2016, although the central bank predicts it will hit 0.9 percent by 2020, the end of its forecast horizon, which would be the highest level since 2011.
According to RBNZ policy makers, global economic growth increased and became more broad-based but wage growth subdued due to surplus capacity. The New Zealand Dollar and local front-end government bond yields initially struggled to find direction.
Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler was both positive and defiant during the final press conference of his five-year term.
The RBNZ's decision was widely expected by economists and also comes after a surprise fall in the second quarter employment rate and comparatively sluggish GDP growth.
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