WELLINGTON, July 24 New Zealand's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a 5 1/2-year high of 3.5 percent on Thursday, as expected, and said it would assess the impact of a series of rate rises since March.
Thirteen out of 16 economists polled by Reuters had expected the Reserve Bank of new Zealand to raise rates for the fourth time in as many reviews, after the central bank began its monetary tightening cycle in March.
For a text of the RBNZ's statement, click on .
Ahead of the decision, financial markets had priced in an 86 percent chance of a 25 basis point rise and 70 basis points of tightening in the next 12 months.
The RBNZ has raised rates from a record low 2.5 percent, putting New Zealand well ahead of major central banks in developed economies which are still grappling with the aftermath of the financial crisis.
New Zealand's official cash rate of 3.25 percent compares with 0-0.25 percent in the United States, 0-0.1 percent in Japan, 0.15 percent in the euro zone, and 2.5 percent in Australia.
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu)