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OCR increased to 7%

Thursday 27th October 2005

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The Reserve Bank has increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 7%.

"As noted in our September Monetary Policy Statement, medium term inflation risks remain strong," Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said.

"Persistently buoyant housing activity and related consumption, higher oil prices and the risk of flow-through into inflation expectations, and a more expansionary fiscal policy are all of concern.

"While there has been a noticeable slowing in economic activity, and a particular weakening in the export sector, we have seen ongoing momentum in domestic demand and persistently tight capacity constraints. Hence, we remain concerned that inflation pressures are not abating sufficiently to achieve our medium term target, prompting us to raise the OCR today.

"The most serious risk to medium term inflation is the continuing strength of household spending, supported by a relentless housing market and rapid growth in mortgage lending. Significant dis-saving by the household sector is showing through in a worsening current account deficit, now 8% of GDP. Borrowers and lenders alike need to recognise that the current rate of debt accumulation is unsustainable. The correction of these imbalances and associated inflation pressures will require a slowdown in housing, credit growth and domestic spending. We also expect a significantly lower exchange rate. The longer these adjustments in behaviour and asset prices are deferred, the more disruptive they are likely to be.

"Today's increase in the OCR, combined with higher world interest rates and pipeline effects from the repricing of fixed rate mortgages, are expected to slow the housing market and household spending over the coming months.

"However, the prospect of further tightening may only be ruled out once a noticeable moderation in housing and consumer spending is observed. Certainly, we see no prospect of an easing in the foreseeable future if inflation is to be kept within the 1% to 3% target range on average over the medium term."

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