29 Apr 2010

Reserve Bank keeps interest rates on hold

8:03 pm on 29 April 2010

The Reserve Bank has kept interest rates on hold, as expected.

The central bank has held the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at the record low of 2.5% since April last year.

The bank previously pledged to start increasing the rate from its record low 2.5% about the middle of the year.

This was abandoned on Thursday in favour of a pledge to raise the rate in coming months, depending on the state of the economy.

The bank continues to expect the New Zealand economy to recover in line with or slightly faster than its most recent projection.

The dollar fell half a cent as currency markets factored in a later start to the rate hikes.

TSB cut its one-year fixed mortgage rate but says this is not related to the Reserve Bank statement.

Borrowing costs between financial institutions, which help determine mortgage rates, lifted slightly.

June/July predictions

Economists say surging prices for farm exports suggest hikes will begin in June or July.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says the Reserve Bank's revised wording gives it more flexibility, but key economic data in the coming weeks, such as wage and employment figures, will be crucial to its decision on whether to raise rates.

In its statement on Thursday morning, the Reserve Bank said trade with Asia is strong and export prices near their 2008 peak, but there is still an uncertain outlook for the world economy and parts of the New Zealand economy remain weak.

Annual CPI inflation, which has been close to 2% for the past year, is expected to track within the target range over the medium term, the bank said.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve has left its main interest rate near zero even though it says the economy is strengthening.

The US central bank says it expects the rate will stay very low for an extended period.