NZ Herald business editor at large

The Economy Hub: Why your mortgage rates may rise

Home owners could face higher mortgage payments if the Reserve Bank doesn't cut rates further this year. And if the official cash rate does fall bank deals are unlikely to go much lower, economists say.

The problem for local banks is that volatile financial markets have pushed up credit risk, raising the cost of borrowing.

New Zealand banks still rely on international funding for 25-30 per cent of the lending.

Speaking on The Economy Hub video panel show, ANZ senior economist Sharon Zollner said New Zealand banks were having to pay more for overseas funding.

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"We think that is going to be persistent and the longer it carries on the more pressure it will put on retail rates," she said.

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said that while financial market turmoil had eased a bit in the past week or so, he did expect to see further volatility.

"I think that is just something we are going to have to accept over the next few years because of where we are in the cycle and where global debt levels are."

Massey University banking specialist David Tripe said he understood the logic for upward pressure on retail rates.

It did appear that cut prices specials we had been seeing in the market were starting to dry up and anecdotally he had heard of banks paying more to borrow in international markets.

The good news is that most economists now expect the Reserve Bank to cut rates later this year -- although few expect a move next week when Governor Graeme Wheeler delivers his first full monetary policy statement of the year.

We expect the RBNZ's 90 day track to signal one further rate cut in 2016. We continue to expect two 25 [basis points] rate cuts, in June and August although risks are skewed to an earlier start.

ANZ, ASB and Westpac are all picking two more cuts this year -- likely beginning in June.

In a note published today ASB economists said that, while a cut was not expected next Thursday, it was likely that the RBNZ would "adopt a stronger easing bias, signalling further rate cuts as imminent (albeit conditional on the data)".

"We expect the RBNZ's 90 day track to signal one further rate cut in 2016. We continue to expect two 25 [basis points] rate cuts, in June and August although risks are skewed to an earlier start," ASB said.

That might be good news for mortgage holders, but just don't expect that to translate into even lower mortgage rates at this stage.

- NZ Herald

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