Another bank follows suit on rates

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 12:51 25/07/2014

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ASB has joined ANZ in passing on the latest official interest rate increase in full, with others likely to follow.

However, homeowners should then be able to relax until the end of the year as the Reserve Bank ponders its next move.

The central bank raised the official cash rate (OCR) to 3.5 per cent yesterday, but signalled a pause in its cycle of increases.

Economists expect the reprieve to last until December or possibly into next year, as the Reserve Bank waits to see what impact its earlier rate moves have had.

ANZ was again the first to move, increasing its floating home-loan prices by the full 25 basis points within an hour of the announcement.

Head of mortgages Sarah Berry said it would be sensible for anyone with a home loan to make sure their budget was planned so they could comfortably manage further increases.

ASB followed suit, increasing its rate to 6.75 per cent, effective today for new lending.

Yesterday's rate increase was the fourth this year, and brings both the OCR and floating mortgage rates rise up by a full percentage point since March.

For someone with a 30-year mortgage, the changes have added an extra $65 to monthly repayments on every $100,000 of debt.

New Zealanders collectively owe $64 billion worth of floating mortgage debt, although that figure is reducing rapidly as more people move to fixed loans.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the central bank was still biased to moving rates upward but was now "stopping for a cup of tea".

Bank of New Zealand chief economist Tony Alexander said floating mortgage rates would inevitably rise, but probably then remain steady for the rest of the year.

While the central bank's next move would depend on economic data, Alexander said he still expected an increase towards so-called neutral interest rates in the longer-term.

"At this stage we don't see any reason to alter our expectation that eventually the cash rate ends up at 5 per cent," he said.

If floating mortgage rates moved in lock step with the OCR, that would imply rates of 8 per cent or more.

Fixed mortgage rates are not as closely tied to the OCR, as the market already prices in most of the changes in advance.

The wholesale "swap rates" that underpin fixed home loans have eased slightly over the last two weeks.

The silver lining of higher interest rates is that savers are earning more on their investments.

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ANZ has introduced a new term deposit special of 4.4 per cent for 8 months.

The bank has previously pointed out that more than five times as many of its customers have savings products than have floating home loans.

ASB has bumped up its nine-month and one-year term deposit rates for savers with $10,000 or more by 30 and 15 basis points respectively.

- Stuff

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