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OCR kept at record low

Thursday 9th June 2011

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The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 2.5 percent.

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said: "The outlook for the New Zealand economy has improved since the publication of the March Statement.

"Economic activity has been significantly disrupted by the Christchurch earthquake. However, while many firms and households - particularly within Canterbury - continue to be adversely affected, it appears the negative confidence effect of the earthquake on economic activity throughout the rest of the country has been limited.

"The early signs of recovery noted in the March Statement have continued. Despite some continuing signs of weakness in the world economy, commodity prices remain very strong and firms expect to increase their hiring and capital investment. Reconstruction in Canterbury is projected to add about 2 percentage points to GDP growth over 2012, and boost the level of activity for several years thereafter.

"Despite the strong outlook for export earnings, household expenditure is expected to grow only modestly. Household debt remains very high and is expected to constrain retail spending and the housing market for some time. Continued fiscal consolidation will also act to dampen activity.

"The New Zealand dollar has appreciated substantially over the past two months. This appreciation, supported by high export prices for primary producers, is negatively affecting other parts of the tradable sector, constraining rebalancing of the New Zealand economy.

"Headline inflation is currently being boosted by recent increases in indirect taxes, food and petrol prices, and surveyed expectations of future inflation have edged up. Despite this, indicators of capacity usage and core inflation suggest underlying inflation remains constrained.

"As GDP growth picks up, underlying inflation is expected to rise. A gradual increase in the OCR over the next two years will be required to offset this, such that CPI inflation tracks close to the midpoint of the target band over the latter part of the projection. The pace and timing of increases will be guided by the speed of recovery, but for now the OCR remains on hold."

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