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ANZ and National Banks take the lead in deposit rate war

ANZ and National Banks have taken the lead in the deposit rate war, boosting their returns on terms for 12 months or more.

Thursday, October 29th 2009, 11:21PM

Both banks increased their 12-month rates 50 basis points to 5% and introduced an 18-month special of 5.25%, along with increases of 50 points to 5.5% and 6% in the two- and three-year spaces and 25 point hikes to 6.25% and 6.75% in the four- and five-year terms.

The rates offered by the country's largest banking group, which holds about $33.7 billion in retail deposits, are the highest among all of the country's largest banks.

Competition for deposit rates has hit unprecedented levels this year as banks look to shore up retail funds in preparation for the Reserve Bank's prudential requirements. The global financial crisis last year saw credit lines dry up for lenders, who were forced to tap domestic retail investors for funds.

The changes came after the Reserve Bank held the official cash rate at a record-low 2.5% and Governor Alan Bollard stood his ground saying rates will probably remain at the current level until the second half of next year. Markets had been picking the central bank to begin hiking interest rates as early as January.

"In contrast to current market pricing, we see no urgency to begin withdrawing monetary policy stimulus," he said in his statement.

Still, Bollard eased his tone, removing the prospect of rates falling further from his statement.

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