NZ industry worried about further rate rises

Some of New Zealand’s industry spokespeople are concerned about the
effect of interest rate rises and the value of the country’s dollar, following
yesterday’s Reserve Bank cash rate increase.

Fairfax NZ reports that the rate rise, the first since July 2010, is
expected by economists to be followed by further rises to attempt to keep a lid
on the country’s inflation.

Higher rates, by drawing increased foreign investment, could lead to an
increase in the value of the country’s dollar, which crept up following
yesterday’s 0.25 per cent increase. The interest rate is currently at 2.75 per cent.

Kim Campbell, CEO of the Employers and
Manufacturers Association, said that jobs were already under strain, and
a higher dollar would be negative.

“You keep the dollar up it means our
imported goods are cheaper, which is good, but you’ve got a whole chunk of the
export economy which is uncompetitive,” he told Fairfax NZ.

Meanwhile, the BNZ-Business NZ PMI,
released today, shows the country’s manufacturing sector continuing its robust
growth, with good news for employment in particular.

As the New Zealand Herald and others
, the results indicated NZ’s manufacturing industry achieved its 18th
straight month of growth.

The result of 56.2 for February was well
above a score of 50, separating expansion from contraction.

“The last six months of
manufacturing expansion have remained at the 56-point value, which represents a
very solid level of activity,” explained Business NZ’s executive
director for manufacturing, Catherine Beard.

Senior economist with Business NZ, Craig
Ebert was strongly positive when commenting on employment data from the survey.

“This is evidence that the economic
upswing is gaining momentum, spreading across industries and fully radiating
into the labour market,” he said in a statement.