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RBNZ likely to hike official cash rate around mid-2018, says ANZ Research

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) is expected to raise its official cash rate (OCR) probably around mid-2018, even though at the February Monetary Policy Statement, the RBNZ remained "very neutral" and today that was reinforced, with Wheeler noting that risks to the OCR outlook are "equally weighted", ANZ Research reported.

In practice, that means that they see an even chance of rate cuts and rate hikes, which the Governor was quite explicit in highlighting today. While the speech goes into much more detail than the February MPS on the risks the RBNZ sees both domestically and internationally, none of the explicit risks discussed are new.

Domestically, immigration was seen as a key upside risk, offset by the threat of worsening housing market imbalances and the sensitivity households have to potentially higher mortgage rates. Inflation risks were seen as balanced, although the strong NZD impact was again singled out.

But one global risk in particular, the threat of increased protectionism, does appear to be at the forefront of Wheeler’s mind right now. The central bank Governor does believe that increased protectionism "would have sizeable impacts on the global economy", which in turn would be quite negative for New Zealand.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index closed 0.38 percent higher at 7,175.83, while at 05:00 GMT, the FxWirePro's Hourly NZD Strength Index remained neutral at -18.61 (a reading above +75 indicates a bullish trend, while that below -75 a bearish trend). For more details, visit http://www.fxwirepro.com/currencyindex

By Debarati Bir
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