18 Apr 2017

Inflation set to bound higher, but rates still on hold

12:20 pm on 18 April 2017

A surge in annual inflation to its highest level in more than five years is not expected to spook the Reserve Bank or force any change to its interest rate policy, in the near term at least.

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Photo: 123rf

Official consumers price index data for the three months ended March is due on Thursday, with expectations for a rise of about 0.8 percent for the quarter, which would take the annual inflation rate to 2 percent.

That's the mid-point of the central bank's target band and it would be the highest since mid-2011.

But there was a lot of statistical noise and one-off factors associated with these numbers, such as the annual tax increase for cigarettes, volatile fuel and seasonal food prices, which the RBNZ will discount.

ANZ senior economist Phil Borkin said except for the building sector, there was not much inflation in the economy and that would keep the Reserve Bank pacified.

"Beyond housing, beyond those one-offs, there's not a lot of inflationary pulse at the moment and we certainly think that things like the strong New Zealand dollar, the deflationary impact we are seeing around the world and the impact of technology is still going to be evident within these figures," he said.

Mr Borkin said the RBNZ needed clear evidence that inflation was going to broaden beyond housing and stay elevated before making any interest rate moves.

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