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Bollard holds rates steady but hawkishness exceeds expectations

Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard met expectations by keeping official interest rates unchanged and by talking tough but still managed to surprise wholesale interest rate and currency markets with his forecasts.

Thursday, December 7th 2006, 10:34AM

by Jenny Ruth

He left the OCR unchanged at 7.25% but has raised his forecast of where 90 day bank bills are heading by about 20 basis points which is also about 20 points higher than they were before the statement.

"It looks like they've factored in a hike without saying so. How are they going to get there without a hike," says Robin Clements, an economist at UBS New Zealand.

The New Zealand dollar shot up about half a US cent to 68.70 cents - it was down near 60 cents in July - and wholesale interest rates were up between seven and 10 basis points within half an hour of the statement and both looked to be heading higher.

Brendan O'Donovan, chief economist at Westpac, says that while Bollard acknowledged a number of positive developments, particularly a better near-term inflation outlook - he says annual inflation could be as low as 2% next year - his focus remains on the buoyant housing market and resilient household consumption.

"Although there are strong elements on both sides of the ledger, what they're most concerned about is the rebound in housing and the resilience in household spending," O'Donovan says.

Bollard said the housing market "could continue to defy predictions of a downturn" and that domestic demand could also be further stimulated by increased government spending.

Clements says the central bank did acknowledge that many exporters are feeling the pressure.

"Many exporters are feeling pressure from the high exchange rate which, if sustained, could threaten the ongoing rebalancing of the economy," Bollard said.

Clements says he's been hearing some horror stories from exporters who hadn't been carrying any hedging because all the experts were telling them the currency was going to fall further.

"If they do hike, the only people they're going to hurt is exporters," Clements says.

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Full Rates Table | Compare Rates

Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
AIA 4.55 ▼2.29 ▼2.59 ▼2.65
ANZ 4.44 2.89 3.25 3.39
ANZ Special - 2.29 2.69 2.79
ASB Bank 4.45 2.29 2.59 2.65
Bluestone 3.49 3.34 2.99 3.34
BNZ - Classic - 2.29 2.59 2.79
BNZ - Mortgage One 5.15 - - -
BNZ - Rapid Repay 4.60 - - -
BNZ - Std, FlyBuys 4.55 2.89 3.19 3.39
BNZ - TotalMoney 4.55 - - -
CFML Loans 4.95 - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
China Construction Bank 4.49 4.70 4.80 4.95
China Construction Bank Special - 2.65 2.65 2.80
Credit Union Auckland 5.45 - - -
Credit Union Baywide 5.65 3.95 3.85 -
Credit Union South 5.65 3.95 3.85 -
First Credit Union Special 5.85 2.95 3.45 -
Heartland Bank - Online 2.50 1.99 2.35 2.45
Heretaunga Building Society 4.99 3.50 3.40 -
HSBC Premier 4.49 2.25 2.35 2.65
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - 1.99 - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
ICBC 3.69 2.25 2.35 2.65
Kainga Ora 4.43 2.79 3.04 3.13
Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special - 2.25 - -
Kiwibank 3.40 3.20 3.50 3.50
Kiwibank - Offset 3.40 - - -
Kiwibank Special 3.40 2.35 2.65 2.65
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Nelson Building Society 4.95 3.20 3.24 -
Pepper Essential 4.79 - - -
Resimac 3.39 3.35 2.99 3.35
SBS Bank 4.54 2.79 2.79 3.15
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
SBS Bank Special - 2.29 2.29 2.65
Select Home Loans 3.49 3.34 2.99 3.34
The Co-operative Bank - First Home Special - 2.09 - -
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40 2.29 2.59 2.79
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40 2.79 3.09 3.29
TSB Bank 5.34 3.09 3.29 3.45
TSB Special 4.54 2.29 2.49 2.65
Wairarapa Building Society 4.99 3.55 3.49 -
Westpac 4.59 3.09 3.29 3.39
Westpac - Offset 4.59 - - -
Westpac Special - 2.29 2.69 2.79
Median 4.55 2.79 2.99 2.80

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