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08-03-2007

Further OCR hikes predicted

Westpac-owned BT Funds Management is predicting that there will be further hikes in the official cash rate.

BT's head of fixed interest, Andrew Blackler, is anticipating hikes in either December or January with the risk of more to come.

"This is the fourth time in three years that the Reserve Bank has stated or inferred it is finished raising rates only to hike rates on average six months later," he said.

"The concern is that the Reserve Bank sees the OCR as the tool to managing monetary policy when it is in fact the guidance or threat of how they will use the tool."

Blackler said that by stating it had finished raising rates, the Reserve Bank had achieved nothing.

"I think there will be downward, not upward pressure on term mortgage rates," he said. "Dr Bollard continues to believe that the OCR movements will cool spending but he needs to change consumers borrowing costs. Given New Zealanders preference to fix mortgage rates, I consider Dr Bollard has failed once again."

Blackler says the central bank may have been swayed by political and public pressure, particularly regarding the high currency.

"It is imperative that the Reserve Bank gets domestic inflation under control (currently 4.1%) before the currency falls. The currency has provided to date a deflationary impact with tradeable inflation running at -0.5%. A falling currency would add to the Reserve Bank's woes so they should be extremely careful about what they wish for."

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