Statement by Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler:
The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 2.0 percent.
Global growth is below trend despite being supported by unprecedented levels of monetary stimulus. Significant surplus capacity remains across many economies and, along with low commodity prices, is suppressing global inflation. Volatility in global markets has increased in recent weeks, with government bond yields rising and equities coming off their highs. The prospects for global growth and commodity prices remain uncertain. Political uncertainty remains.
Weak global conditions and low interest rates relative to New Zealand are placing upward pressure on the New Zealand dollar exchange rate. The trade-weighted exchange rate is higher than assumed in the August Statement. Although this may partly reflect improved export prices, the high exchange rate continues to place pressure on the export and import-competing sectors and, together with low global inflation, is causing negative inflation in the tradables sector. A decline in the exchange rate is needed.
Second quarter GDP results were consistent with the Bank’s growth expectations. Domestic growth is expected to remain supported by strong net immigration, construction activity, tourism, and accommodative monetary policy. While dairy prices have firmed since early August, the outlook for the full season remains very uncertain. High net immigration is supporting strong growth in labour supply and limiting wage pressure.
House price inflation remains excessive, posing concerns for financial stability. There are indications that recent macro-prudential measures and tighter credit conditions in recent weeks are having a moderating influence.
Headline inflation is being held below the target band by continuing negative tradables inflation. Annual CPI inflation is expected to weaken in the September quarter, reflecting lower fuel prices and cuts in ACC levies. Annual inflation is expected to rise from the December quarter, reflecting the policy stimulus to date, the strength of the domestic economy, reduced drag from tradables inflation, and rising non-tradables inflation. Although long-term inflation expectations are well-anchored at 2 percent, the sustained weakness in headline inflation risks further declines in inflation expectations.
Monetary policy will continue to be accommodative. Our current projections and assumptions indicate that further policy easing will be required to ensure that future inflation settles near the middle of the target range. We will continue to watch closely the emerging economic data.