Dollar drops as inflation sinks to zero
The dollar in your pocket is worth just as much as it was three months ago, even if it may not seem like it because of rising prices for basics such as food and rent.
Statistics NZ reported the consumer price index didn't increase at all in the three months to June, bringing the annual inflation rate down from 2.2 per cent to 1.7 per cent.
Banks had been revising down their expectations of the annual inflation rate in recent weeks to between 1.8 and 1.9 per cent – but hadn't expected the quarterly rate to drop to zero.
In "seasonally adjusted" terms inflation came in at "negative 0.1 per cent", Statistics NZ said.
Currency traders reacted immediately by sending the New Zealand dollar down half a cent against the US dollar, to US72.7 cents.
Westpac said the inflation figure would put a "severe dent" in market expectations that the Reserve Bank would start hiking the official cash rate (OCR) from its current level of 1.75pc by the middle of next year.
But ASB Bank said it still expected a rise in the OCR late next year.
Falling oil prices helped suck all the wind out of inflation, but the prices for many basics did go up.
"Household basics like rent, food, and electricity all hit consumers' pockets harder this quarter," Statistics NZ prices manager Jason Attewell said.
"Offsetting these price rises were falls in domestic airfares and petrol prices – which fell on average by 4 cents a litre."
Quarterly changes in the consumers price index - the latest figure doesn't appear to show because it is right on the line.
ANZ bank said prices for "necessities" were moving at a different speed to other goods and services, "with the prices for the former items generally rising, but prices for more discretionary-type spending falling".
The Reserve Bank had forecast in May that today's annual rate would come in at 2.1 per cent.
But that was before the latest dip in oil prices, evidence that a $23 million boost for the hospitality industry from the Lions tour did not spill over into the wider retail sector, and the further strengthening of the New Zealand dollar, which is reducing the price of imports.
Although the absence of inflation during the three-month period will be seen as helping justify the Reserve Bank's neutral stance on the official cash rate, banks have warned mortgage rates will continue to edge up regardless.
That is because of rising rates overseas which are increasing their borrowing costs.
UPS AND DOWNS
Annual inflation for different products in year to June 30.
New houses (excluding land): 6.4pc
Alcohol & tobacco: 3.7pc
Food: 2pc (fruit and veggies 8.8pc)
Overall inflation: 1.7pc
Broadband and phone: -3.8pc
TVs, radios and computers: -9pc
Source: Statistics NZ