Two major banks have moved to cut one-year mortgage rates as the Reserve Bank holds the official cash rate steady at 1.75 per cent saying monetary policy will "remain accommodative for a considerable period".
Bank of New Zealand today said it had cut 20 basis points from its one-year fixed-term mortgage interest rate to 4.39 per cent a year.
Westpac reduced its one-year special fixed rate from 4.59 per cent to 4.45 per cent effective as of yesterday morning.
BNZ director of retail and marketing Paul Carter said New Zealanders were enjoying some of the lowest interest rates in a generation and the economic outlook indicated that may continue for most of this year.
The new rate was effective tomorrow and available for customers with a 20 per cent deposit. The rate was not available for some investor lending.
Acting Reserve Bank governor Grant Spencer today kept the official cash rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent and continued to signal rates would not lift until the latter half of next year at the earliest due to the lack of inflationary pressure.
"Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period," Spencer said in a statement. "Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly."
The Reserve Bank now sees annual inflation at 1.1 per cent in the March quarter versus a prior forecast of 1.5 per cent. It does not expect inflation to return to the mid-point of its 1 per cent-to-3 per cent target band until September 2020 versus a prior forecast of June 2018.
BNZ's Carter said the OCR was just one of a range of factors that impacted the interest rates the bank offered.
"Other considerations are costs, the volatility of offshore markets, capital requirements and the highly competitive market.
"New Zealand has a very competitive banking sector."
Research by the bank showed 66 per cent or people looked into their home loan structure and repayments regularly.
"This is a great opportunity for people looking for a great deal to maximise their repayments and therefore pay off their loans faster," Carter said.
BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis in a report said the bank saw no need to change its view that the RBNZ would start raising interest rates in February 2019 "and then it moves relatively aggressively".
"However, we equally concede that there are multiple risks around our hypothesis. In addition to economic developments, we will have a new RBNZ governor for the next monetary policy statement and, potentially, a very different policy targets agreement," Toplis wrote.
"Whatever the case, though, barring a massive surprise, the chances of a rate hike at the RBNZ's meetings in March and May of this year are near zero."