26 Jul 2010

Interest rate rise likely this week - economists

6:14 am on 26 July 2010

Most economists are picking the Reserve Bank to lift the benchmark interest rate another 25 basis to 3% when it reviews the rate on Thursday.

Last month, the central bank raised the Official Cash Rate (OCR) for the first time in a year from a record low of 2.5% to 2.75%.

The bank has indicated it intends to keep lifing rates in order to contain inflation over the next couple of years.

It believes the economy will continue to grow in the medium to longer-term, and although global volatility poses a risk, it has signalled it will continue to increase the OCR to more normal levels.

The principal economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaquab, believes the Reserve Bank should keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.75% because the outlook is too uncertain.

If the Reserve Bank wants to encourage an export led-recovery, Mr Eaquab says, it's important to ensure the exchange rate stays low by keeping interest rates low.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says it's too soon for a pause, as rates are just moving off exceptionally low levels they were taken to in case there was a world depression and world economic growth has returned to above average while commodity prices in New Zealand are strong.

Mr Alexander says the Reserve Bank is not looking at inflation now but in 18 to 24 months' time when rising costs are expected to increase inflationary pressures.