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  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is likely to maintain the interest rate at 5.50% in February.
  • RBNZ Governor Orr’s press conference and updated macro forecasts will grab the market’s attention.
  • The New Zealand Dollar gears up for a volatility spike on RBNZ Governor Orr’s words.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) will convene its first monetary meeting of 2024 on Wednesday. The RBNZ board members are expected to keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) steady at 5.50% for the fifth meeting in a row. However, some economists are foreseeing the February meeting to be a “live” one, with upside risks for a rate hike.

The New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is set to witness intense volatility on a surprise rate hike or a hawkish hold by the RBNZ.

What to expect from the RBNZ interest rate decision?

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand will publish its first Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) of this year, including the updated economic forecasts, alongside the interest rate announcement on Wednesday at 01:00 GMT. RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr’s press conference will follow at 02:00 GMT.

Data published by Stats NZ showed that New Zealand’s annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 4.7% for the December quarter, the smallest annual rise in more than two years. However, the figure was still above the RBNZ’s target of 1.0%-3.0%.

Despite the CPI data indicating disinflationary conditions in New Zealand’s economy, the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) revised their rate call earlier this month, noting that “we now expect the RBNZ to hike the OCR 25 basis points (bps) in February and April, taking it to 6.0%.”

“We just don’t think the RBNZ will feel confident they’ve done enough to meet their inflation mandate,” the ANZ said.

However, the country’s falling inflation expectations nudged markets to reprice their expectations for the RBNZ interest rate outlook. Two-year inflation expectations, seen as the timeframe when RBNZ policy action will filter through to prices, fell to 2.5% from 2.76% in the December quarter, the central bank’s quarterly survey showed.

Further, Stats NZ’s Selected Prices Indexes (SPI) showed that the annual increase in inflation actually fell to 6.8% in January from 7.0% in December.

At its November policy meeting, the RBNZ said that “if inflationary pressures were to be stronger than anticipated, the OCR would likely need to increase further,” adding that “the Monetary Policy Committee agreed that interest rates will need to remain at a restrictive level for a sustained period of time.” The central bank projected a peak OCR of 5.69% in the September quarter of 2024, leaving the door ajar for one more rate hike this year.

Previewing the RBNZ policy announcement, analysts at BBH noted: “Reserve Bank of New Zealand meets Wednesday and is expected to keep rates steady at 5.50%. It will release its Monetary Policy Statement with updated macro forecasts at the same time. Markets see around 25% odds of a 25 bp hike this week and the focus will be on the updated rate path projections.”

“We doubt the revised RBNZ projections will rule out an additional policy rate increase because of stronger than expected non-tradable inflation and private sector wage growth in Q4. As such, NZD risks are skewed to the upside,” the analysts added.

How will the RBNZ interest decision impact the New Zealand Dollar?

Should the RBNZ surprise markets with a 25 bps rate hike or raise the forecast for the peak rate to 6.0%, the New Zealand Dollar is likely to meet a fresh buying wave against the US Dollar. In case of any hawkish surprises, the NZD/USD pair could stage a solid rebound toward the 0.6250 level.

On the other hand, if RBNZ Governor Orr’s comments are balanced, suggesting a “higher for longer” interest rate view, the NZD/USD correction is expected to gain traction, knocking the pair down toward the 0.6100 barrier. Additionally, a dovish pause by the central bank could also spell doom for the Kiwi.

Dhwani Mehta, FXStreet’s Senior Analyst, offers a brief technical outlook for trading the New Zealand Dollar on the RBNZ policy announcements: “The NZD/USD pair is battling the critical 50-day Simple Moving Average (SMA) at 0.6180 on its corrective downside. The 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) indicator, however, is still holding above the midline, suggesting that risks remain skewed to the upside for the pair.”

“The immediate upside hurdle is seen at the 0.6220 round level, above which the July 27 high of 0.6274 will come into play. NZD buyers will then aim for the 0.6300 figure. Conversely, a sustained move below the 50-day SMA at 0.6180 could open doors for a test of the 0.6100 mark. Further south, the 200-day SMA at 0.6075 could come to the rescue of NZD/USD,” Dhwani adds.  

Economic Indicator

New Zealand RBNZ Interest Rate Decision

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) announces its interest rate decision after its seven scheduled annual policy meetings. If the RBNZ is hawkish and sees inflationary pressures rising, it raises the Official Cash Rate (OCR) to bring inflation down. This is positive for the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) since higher interest rates attract more capital inflows. Likewise, if it reaches the view that inflation is too low it lowers the OCR, which tends to weaken NZD.

Read more.

Next release: 02/28/2024 01:00:00 GMT

Frequency: Irregular

Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) holds monetary policy meetings seven times a year, announcing their decision on interest rates and the economic assessments that influenced their decision. The central bank offers clues on the economic outlook and future policy path, which are of high relevance for the NZD valuation. Positive economic developments and upbeat outlook could lead the RBNZ to tighten the policy by hiking interest rates, which tends to be NZD bullish. The policy announcements are usually followed by Governor Adrian Orr’s press conference.

RBNZ FAQs

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) is the country’s central bank. Its economic objectives are achieving and maintaining price stability – achieved when inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), falls within the band of between 1% and 3% – and supporting maximum sustainable employment.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s (RBNZ) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decides the appropriate level of the Official Cash Rate (OCR) according to its objectives. When inflation is above target, the bank will attempt to tame it by raising its key OCR, making it more expensive for households and businesses to borrow money and thus cooling the economy. Higher interest rates are generally positive for the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) as they lead to higher yields, making the country a more attractive place for investors. On the contrary, lower interest rates tend to weaken NZD.

Employment is important for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) because a tight labor market can fuel inflation. The RBNZ’s goal of “maximum sustainable employment” is defined as the highest use of labor resources that can be sustained over time without creating an acceleration in inflation. “When employment is at its maximum sustainable level, there will be low and stable inflation. However, if employment is above the maximum sustainable level for too long, it will eventually cause prices to rise more and more quickly, requiring the MPC to raise interest rates to keep inflation under control,” the bank says.

In extreme situations, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) can enact a monetary policy tool called Quantitative Easing. QE is the process by which the RBNZ prints local currency and uses it to buy assets – usually government or corporate bonds – from banks and other financial institutions with the aim to increase the domestic money supply and spur economic activity. QE usually results in a weaker New Zealand Dollar (NZD). QE is a last resort when simply lowering interest rates is unlikely to achieve the objectives of the central bank. The RBNZ used it during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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