In Markets

NZ inflation at 15-year low, prompting rates move debate

New Zealand’s annual inflation rate hit its lowest level in 15 years in the first quarter as cheap oil prices fed through to petrol pumps, leaving analysts at odds over whether the central bank will keep rates on hold into next year.

The consumer price index fell 0.3 percent in the three months to March 31, the second consecutive negative quarterly reading, official data showed on Monday, taking the annual inflation rate to 0.1 percent, the lowest since the third quarter of 1999. The median forecast of 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 0.2 percent increase.

The slowdown in inflation, just above the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s (RBNZ) forecast of a 0.4 percent fall, backed the view the bank will stay on the sidelines for an extended period, according to some analysts.

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