New Zealand cenbank holds rates, hikes coming soon

WELLINGTON Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:07pm EST

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WELLINGTON Jan 30 (Reuters) - The New Zealand central bank held its benchmark cash rate steady at a record low 2.5 percent on Thursday, as expected, but said higher rates are likely in the near future to counter stronger inflation pressures from the housing and building sectors.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand's (RBNZ) decision had been seen as finely balanced after stronger-than-expected fourth quarter inflation data published last week raised expectations of a pre-emptive rise.

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

Three of 17 analysts in a Reuters poll expected a 25 basis point rise, with 12 looking at a March rise, and two for a second quarter hike.

Financial market pricing before Thursday's decision implied a 34 percent chance of a 25 basis points rate hike, and 124 basis points of rises over the next 12 months.

The official cash rate has been held at since an emergency 50 basis point cut in March 2011 after an earthquake badly damaged the second biggest city Christchurch.

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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