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New Zealand central bank still signaling more interest rate cuts

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand named a new central bank governor on Monday, Dec 11.
Brent Lewin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New Zealand's central bank said Tuesday its current interest rate track involves further cuts to balance a number of risks while generating an increase in consumer price index inflation.

"Our present judgment is that the current interest rate track, involving an expected 35 basis points of further interest rate cuts, balances a number of risks weighing on the economy, while generating an increase in CPI inflation back toward the mid-point of the 1 to 3 percent target range," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Graeme Wheeler said in a speech to businesspeople in Dunedin, the text of which was released on the bank's website.

The New Zealand dollar rose around 0.5 percent after the speech, as investors may have been expecting the central bank to provide more detail on when it might next cut rates, said ANZ Senior Economist Sharon Zollner.

Some people may have expected more information about possible tools to curb New Zealand's hot housing market "which would make it easier to cut the cash rate more," she said.

Alternatively, they may have been expecting "something about implied higher odds for a cut in November," said Zollner.

The Kiwi bounced when the speech essentially reiterated what the central bank said in its latest monetary policy statement.

Citi: RBNZ simply wasn't dovish enough

The bank in early August cut interest rates by 25 basis points to a record low of 2.0 percent and said further policy easing may be needed.

It published a 90-day bank bill track, widely considered a proxy for interest rates, that pointed to around 35 basis points of further easing.

On Tuesday the governor reiterated that the key rationale for cutting rates in August was "to lower the risk of a further decline in short-term inflation expectations."

While the central bank has signaled at least one and possibly two more rate cuts it will not move hard or fast, Wheeler said Tuesday.

"We do not believe that the outlook and balance of risks warrants a position of no policy change, nor a position of rapid easings," he said.

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