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Don't hope for another interest rate cut, advise analysts

by June 6, 2016 General

Interest rates are most likely to be left unchanged this week by the Reserve Bank, and New Zealand may have seen the last cut in the current cycle, say analysts.

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler Photo: RNZ

The bank’s latest monetary policy statement is due out on Thursday morning, and most analysts expect the official cash rate will be kept on hold at 2.25 percent.

Financial markets predict the odds of a cut are at about 25 percent, and the chances of a cut at the meeting after next – in mid-August – are seen as about 50 percent.

Recent strong local data – including house prices, a rise in oil prices and a more settled global outlook – have all lessened the need for lower rates.

But the director of economics at Harbour Asset Management, Christian Hawkesby, said the RBNZ still needed to sell the message that further rate cuts might be around the corner.

“I think in particular the couple of strong months of data in the housing market would have really set them back in their heels, to really want see how that plays out before they cut interest rates for monetary policy reasons,” he said.

Mr Hawkesby said the bank also needed to keep the rate cut options alive and credible to stop a rally in the New Zealand dollar, which was already sitting above the Reserve Bank’s March forecast.

But he warned the bank could not bluff investors for any length of time by hinting at cuts but doing nothing, and the reality was the RBNZ’s easing cycle was, to all intents and purposes, over.

“Already people are starting to have second thoughts about whether this easing cycle does go further. Our view is that something will have to change for them to keep cutting interest rates from here,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank was being advised to get on with its job and target inflation by delivering another cut this week.

Annette Beacher, the Singapore-based chief of strategy at TD Securities, said the RBNZ could easily deliver a rate cut, and it should do so, so it could make some progress towards getting inflation back towards the 2 percent target.

There is a split between local analysts who think the bank could hold rates, while the clear view of overseas analysts was that the central bank should cut.

Ms Beacher said at the very least, the RBNZ needed to deliver an uber-dovish statement, even if it did not cut the rate.

She said otherwise the New Zealand dollar would rise strongly, possibly through the 70 US cents level.