Kiwibank has made a competitive grab for more lending business by passing on all or most of the official cash rate cut to floating rate mortgage-holders - bucking moves by Australian-owned ANZ, ASB and Westpac.

The state-owned bank will cut 0.20 percentage points off its variable home loan rate dropping it to 5.25 per cent and reduce its offset rate by 0.25 percentage points to 5.25 per cent - the lowest variable rates the bank has offered since its launch in 2002.

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The move is in contrast to ANZ, Westpac and ASB which both chose to shave a much smaller amount off their floating home loan rates and lift deposit rates instead.


ANZ said it would cut its floating home loan rate by just 0.05 points to 5. 59 per cent
per annum.

Bigger cuts will be made available to its commercial, agricultural and business borrowers with floating rates cut by 0.15 percentage points for those lenders but even they do not get the full 0.25 cut made by the central bank.

Westpac will cut its floating home loan rate by 0.10 percentage points to 5.65 per cent.

ASB's floating mortgage rates will also reduce by 0.10 points, taking them from 5.65 per cent to 5.55 per cent.

Jose George, managing director of financial rating business Canstar New Zealand said before ASB's announcement that Kiwibank's move was a competitive one.

"We haven't seen what the other two big banks are doing but I wouldn't be surprised if they moved similarly to ANZ and Westpac.

"If that is the case Kiwibank is making is making a big move in the loan market."

BNZ has yet to announce what they will do with interest rates.

But the moves by ANZ and Westpac won't make Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler happy.


Wheeler told reporters in his post-OCR press conference that he would like to see to see most of its OCR cut passed on by the banks to their customers although he said it was up to individual banks to make that call.

"It is a very competitive market. We don't want to end up directing banks on pricing."

He said banks were being faced with a complicated assessment with falling margins and increased funding costs.

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He pointed to strong lending growth which was outstripping deposit growth and said that could see deposit rates head up as the banks try to increase their deposits.

Both ANZ, ASB and Westpac announced increases to deposit rates - an unusual move in a falling interest rate environment.

ANZ said it would lift some term deposits by up to 0.30 percentage points to 3.6 per cent while Westpac announced a special six month term deposit rate of 3.5 per cent.

ANZ chief executive David Hisco the move was designed refocus its lending and borrowing emphasis.

It is a very competitive market. We don't want to end up directing banks on pricing.

"We are sending a strong signal today to New Zealanders that at a time of record low interest rates, it is more responsible to pay down home loans and save, than borrow more. New Zealanders need to consider changing their financial strategies."

ASB has increased its headline 18-month term deposit rate by 45 basis points to 3.65 per cent.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government "certainly hoped" banks would pass on today's OCR cut.

"The early indications are that they are... banks have a mixture of different ways they have to fund themselves, their offshore funding costs are going up a little bit.

"But I think overall you have seen most of the banks indicating they are going to pass it through."

Finance Minister Bill English said it was up to banks to make the call on how much to cut rates.

"The borrowers have the opportunity to change banks, to ring up their bank and demand a lower interest rate if that's what they want to do.

"My understanding is banks are responding to that kind of pressure from customers all the time."

But the bank moves appear to have done little to appease the Labour party which called for an urgent review of Monetary Policy.

The party's finance spokesman Grant Robertson said today's events demonstrate that "more and more, traditional approaches seem to be broken".

"The immediate lift in the exchange rate following today's announcement, and the indications from trading banks that they will be passing on only a fraction of the cut, raises further questions about the limitations of monetary policy."