10 Jun 2013

Clues to housing strategy sought from MPS

6:35 am on 10 June 2013

The Reserve Bank is expected to keep the Official Cash Rate on hold until at least next year, but many will be looking for signs of a willingness by the bank to use tools to cool the housing market when it releases its Monetary Policy Statement this week.

In a Reuters poll of economists, most flag the next movement in the OCR as being up, and not until the first quarter of next year, although there are a few who think it could be earlier.

Recently, Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler said the high exchange rate and housing market presents the central bank with difficult challenges for monetary policy, when both appear to be overvalued and investor demand is expected to remain strong.

Deutsche Bank chief economist Darren Gibbs is expecting the OCR to remain on hold at 2.5%.

He said he will be looking for guidance of where the policy might move over the next year and in particular what might be done to rein in the housing market.

"Certainly we'll be looking for signs the Reserve Bank is losing tolerance. I'm not sure we'll necessarily get that this week - the bank is still in the process of consulting the big lending banks in terms of how some of these policies might work."

However, Mr Gibbs said he thinks there will be signs the bank is moving towards using tools to control the housing market and it's likely something will be done by September or October.

He said lifting the OCR would put upward pressure on the New Zealand dollar and would also put pressure on parts of the economy which are not performing as strongly.

Mr Gibbs said recent depreciation in the dollar will not be enough for the Reserve Bank to shift its level of concern.