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Interest rate rise still possible: Bollard

Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard has left interest rates unchanged, as expected, but he's again talking tough and opened the door to the possibility of a further rate hike.

Thursday, September 14th 2006, 12:00AM

by The Landlord

Bollard's official cash rate (OCR) is unchanged at 7.25% but he says the inflation outlook and the stronger than expected economy means "we are less confident that no further policy tightening will be required in this cycle."

The central bank isn't expecting inflation, currently at 4%, to fall back below 3%, the top end of its target, until late 2007.

Brendan O'Donovan, chief economist at Westpac, says wholesale interest rates rose 6 or 7 basis points and the currency 0.76 points on a trade-weighted basis in reaction to the statement.

New Zealand's relatively high interest rates have been driving the currency higher recently and, by talking about the risks of another rate hike, Bollard "is effectively giving the currency wings," O'Donovan says.

His view is that recent data has been mixed but "in the scheme of things, it hasn't been materially stronger." However, the very strong employment data and the resilience of the housing sector "seems to have spooked him."

The unemployment rate in June fell back to the 3.6% historical low while the median national house sale price in July was up nearly 11% on a year earlier.

Anthony Byett, chief economist at ASB Bank, says that after saying in July that he didn't expect to have to raise rates again in the current cycle, Bollard has reverted to a more conservative stance. However, Byett doesn't think Bollard will actually raise rates.

He agrees that the economy has been stronger than expected on average. "It would appear that we've bounced back from the very slow patch we hit late last year."

The slower economy that Bollard needs to see "is very much contingent on a slowdown in the housing market and the household sector." If that doesn't happen, Bollard will put rates up again, Byett says.

"One way or other, the household sector is going to feel the pinch."

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Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
AIA 4.55 3.55 3.89 3.99
AIA Special - 3.05 3.39 3.69
ANZ 4.44 3.55 3.85 4.49
ANZ Special - 3.05 3.35 3.99
ASB Bank 4.45 3.55 3.89 3.99
ASB Bank Special - 3.05 3.39 3.69
Bluestone 4.44 4.44 4.29 4.34
BNZ - Classic - 3.09 3.35 3.69
BNZ - Mortgage One 5.15 - - -
BNZ - Rapid Repay 4.60 - - -
BNZ - Std, FlyBuys 4.55 3.75 4.10 4.55
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
BNZ - TotalMoney 4.55 - - -
China Construction Bank 5.50 4.70 4.80 4.95
China Construction Bank Special - 3.15 3.15 3.19
Credit Union Auckland 5.95 - - -
Credit Union Baywide 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
Credit Union North 6.45 - - -
Credit Union South 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
Finance Direct - - - -
First Credit Union 5.85 3.99 4.49 -
Heartland 3.95 2.89 2.97 3.39
Heartland Bank - Online - - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Heretaunga Building Society 4.99 4.35 4.45 -
HSBC Premier 4.49 2.95 3.09 3.50
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 5.15 3.18 3.18 3.20
Kainga Ora ▼4.43 ▼3.55 ▼3.85 ▼4.14
Kiwibank 4.40 3.84 4.14 4.40
Kiwibank - Capped - - - -
Kiwibank - Offset 4.40 - - -
Kiwibank Special - 3.09 3.39 3.65
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Napier Building Society - - - -
Nelson Building Society 4.95 4.09 4.15 -
Pepper Essential 5.18 - 4.98 4.98
Resimac 4.50 ▼3.49 ▼3.39 3.94
RESIMAC Special - - - -
SBS Bank 4.54 4.85 5.05 5.49
SBS Bank Special - 3.09 3.39 3.69
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40 3.25 3.45 3.69
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40 3.75 3.85 4.19
TSB Bank 5.34 3.89 4.15 4.49
TSB Special 4.54 3.09 3.35 3.69
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Wairarapa Building Society 4.99 3.95 3.99 -
Westpac 4.59 4.15 4.09 4.49
Westpac - Offset 4.59 - - -
Westpac Special - 3.09 3.39 3.69
Median 4.59 3.55 3.85 3.99

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