New Zealand consumer price index preview: Latest annual inflation figures to be revealed

New Zealand's June quarter consumer price index (CPI) data is set to be unveiled on Monday morning, and major banks expect the annual figure will have accelerated above 7 percent.

Statistics NZ's CPI, which tracks annual price inflation, was 6.9 percent in the year to March - but experts don't expect it to avoid the 7 percent milestone this time.

"Uncertainty remains high, with global commodity prices being buffeted by geopolitical developments, and trading partner inflation continuing to surge," said ANZ's CPI preview, which is forecasting annual inflation to come in at 7.1 percent.

"Domestic inflation risks are firmly to the upside, given still-high inflation expectations and an extremely tight labour market.

"We expect annual non-tradables inflation remained high at 6 percent, while tradables is expected to have nudged up to 8.7 percent year on year," ANZ added. 

An inflation reading of 7 percent or more would make it the highest in more than three decades.

Dwindling supply, being driven by the Russia-Ukraine war and the economic fallout from COVID-19, and revived demand, have sent prices soaring well above the Reserve Bank's (RBNZ) average annual target of between 1 and 3 percent.

The RBNZ has leapt into action in the past few months, raising the official cash rate (OCR) by 50 basis points in its past three monetary policy reviews in an attempt to cool the economy and bring inflation under control. 

Another 50 basis point interest rate hike was expected next month, although economists have suggested a 75 basis point rise wasn't out of the question in the future. 

"We remain of the view that annual CPI inflation is peaking about now (Q2 2022) at about 7 percent," BNZ said in its markets outlook late last month. "It is important to note that while prices continue to push higher, we remain of the view that they may no longer be accelerating. 

"This leaves us with the view that the RBNZ will continue to press ahead with lifting the OCR. However, the core inflation outcomes we are witnessing should be seen as much as the consequence of prior economic tightness as much as anything else."

New Zealand consumer price index preview: Latest annual inflation figures to be revealed
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ASB was also expecting the CPI to peak this quarter at 7.1 percent.

But the economy remained "volatile and very uncertain", the bank said in its Economic Weekly Report

"The rise in inflation, especially the pace and persistence of it has surprised economies worldwide. And of course, New Zealand is not the only one experiencing the crunch."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, speaking to the media late last month, pointed to the Russia-Ukraine War when discussing inflation.

"New Zealanders are, every day, facing the impact of the global inflation pressures that we are seeing," he said. "While it is tough out there for many households and many businesses, that has why we have put into place the supports that we have.

"Clearly, the pressures are going on longer because the war in Ukraine is going on longer. 

"The supply chain situation is still difficult - although there are some improvements in that area. But this is going to be a tough 2022 and we have signalled that for some time."

Asked whether New Zealand could go into a recession, Robertson said "that is not the forecasts we are receiving" although added "those forecasts get updated regularly now".

Infometrics principal economist Brad Olsen said New Zealand could avoid a technical recession but "the bulk of the economy will feel like it is going through a contraction anyway". 

"The economy is trying to do too much with too little and demand needs to reduce closer to what the economy can supply if we're to limit price increases to a more manageable level," he said.

Infometrics forecasts inflation will remain above 6 percent for the rest of the year.