15 Oct 2010

Flat economy signals hold on interest rates

5:44 pm on 15 October 2010

An economist says a weak housing market and constrained household spending have reinforced views that interest rates will remain on hold for some time.

Official figures show seasonally adjusted retail sales stood at $5.7 billion in August, unchanged from the previous month.

Excluding car and fuel sales, core sales fell 0.6%, with declines in department stores, hardware and appliances.

Meanwhile, the Real Estate Institute says agents had their worst September month in a decade, with about 4300 houses changing hands.

JB Were strategist Bernard Doyle says households are in hibernation and at these levels, the Reserve Bank may not need to raise the Official Cash Rate until well into next year.

He says August was a weak number and there is nothing to suggest any urgency about a rise in the rate for another six months.

Mr Doyle also said the labour market continues to underpin spending, while banks have been dropping fixed mortgage rates in recent months, which could stimulate spending in coming months.

The OCR was set at 3% on 29 July.