New Zealand’s inflation hits 30-year high

New Zealand’s inflation hits 30-year high


New Zealand’s Consumer Price Index reached 6.9% in the first quarter of 2022 – a 30-year high, central bank figures show. CPI inflation was 7.6% in Q2, 1990.  The central bank targets an annual CPI increase of 1–3% over the medium term, to maintain a 2% average. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised interest rates by 50 basis points to 1.50% last week, in its fourth increase in a row, and by the most in more than 20 years. The monetary policy committee adopted a “path of least regret”

WELLINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) – New Zealand’s consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in three decades last quarter, underlining the need for the central bank to stay on its hawkish course to contain price pressures without tipping the economy into recession. The New Zealand dollar slipped after the data showed inflation was not quite as hot as feared though, slightly softening expectations the central bank would again hike rates by 50 basis points in May. Annual inflation rose 6.9% in the first quarter from 5.9% in the fourth quarter, the fastest since a 7.6% clip in the June quarter of 1990, Statistics New Zealand said in a statement on Thursday

CPI rose 1.8% in the quarter ending March from a 1.4% rise in the fourth quarter. But the data was below economists’ expectations in a Reuters poll that forecast a 2.0% rise for the quarter, and an annual rise of 7.1%. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) raised interest rates by a hefty 50 basis points to 1.50% last Wednesday, its fourth increase in a row. It has signalled that further hikes will be needed if it wants to get ahead of inflation.

Inflation pressures were broad based with domestic price pressures continuing to intensify. Statistics New Zealand data showed rising prices for food, petrol, construction and housing. “This domestic inflation is the kind that doesn’t go away quickly,” ANZ Bank economists said in a research note. “This continued rise in domestic inflation pressures only reinforces the need for ongoing interest rate rises by the RBNZ.” ANZ believes higher interest rates will squeeze indebted households this year and engineering a soft landing for the overheated economy could be challenging, especially with the housing market already softening.

The kiwi dollar eased 0.4% to $0.6772 , from $0.6804 just before the data hit dealing screens. Two-year swap rates dipped as much as six basis points to 3.52%. With global inflation expected to stay elevated for some time, and prices of commodities and goods affected by supply issues, economists expect RBNZ to hike interest rates again. “Uncertainty is high but we could still see a 7% annual inflation print delivered in Q2 of this year,” ASB Bank economists wrote in a note. It added the bigger issue for them was not when inflation would peak, but how persistent it was.

The annual rate climbed a full percentage point to 6.9 percent, the fastest rate in more than 30 years, but that was also below expectations of 7.1 per cent.

“Imported inflation pressures remain strong, with annual tradeable inflation lifting to 8.5 per cent, but more concerning for the RBNZ is the continued intensification in domestic inflation pressures,” said Finn Robinson, economist at ANZ.

“Measures of core inflation continue to increase further above the RBNZ’s 1-3 per cent target range.”


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