23 Jan 2012

No early rise in interest rates expected

5:47 am on 23 January 2012

The Reserve Bank is not expected to raise interest rates until at least the end of the year as the European debt crisis starts to hit global growth.

Most economists say the Reserve Bank will leave the Official Cash Rate unchanged at its first review of the year on Thursday.

But opinions are divided on when it will lift the OCR, which was set at 2.5% on 10 March, 2011.

ASB Bank chief economist Nick Tuffley says the risks from the eurozone crisis are outweighing more positive factors on the domestic front.

He says the Reserve Bank was very close to lifting interest rates in September, but at that stage it was the brewing debt crisis that pulled it back from doing so.

BNZ economist Craig Ebert says the focus this Thursday will be on the Reserve Bank's message.

He says the Reserve Bank will need to assess a number of factors such as the currency, inflation and activity data.

Mr Ebert says the economic uncertainties including the timing of the Christchurch rebuild are making it more difficult to predict when the Reserve Bank will tighten the OCR.