New Zealand cenbank holds rates, signals hikes next year

WELLINGTON Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:07pm EST

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WELLINGTON Dec 12 (Reuters) - The New Zealand central bank held its benchmark cash rate steady at 2.5 percent on Thursday, as expected, and reaffirmed it expects to raise rates next year to counter rising inflation pressures from the housing and building sectors.

It also said that the New Zealand dollar was high, but it would give it flexibility on rate rises.

For the text of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's (RBNZ) latest statement click on.

All 16 analysts in a Reuters poll expected no change at this review, with 12 looking at the first quarter of 2014 for the first rise.

The RBNZ has said the domestic economy is improving with consumers spending more, and earthquake reconstruction in Christchurch gathering pace, but also voiced concerns about rising house prices and the risk to inflation and financial stability.

Financial market pricing before Thursday's decision implied a slight chance of a 25 basis points rate hike, and 116 basis points of rises over the next 12 months.

The official cash rate has been held at 2.5 percent since an emergency 50 basis point cut in March 2011 after the earthquake.

New Zealand's official rate compares with Australia's 2.50 percent, the U.S. Federal Reserve's 0.0/0.25 percent, the European Central Bank's 0.25 percent, and the Bank of Japan's 0/0.1 percent.

(Gyles Beckford)

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