NZ holds rates, hawkish RBNZ outlook surprises

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) kept its official interest rates on hold as expected on Wednesday, but surprised many in the markets with a hawkish outlook for 2001.

The central bank - facing an inflation spike from high oil prices and a low New Zealand dollar - said it would continue to look through immediate first-round effects of these pressures, but a rather small firming in monetary policy was forecast for next year as New Zealand's economy rebounded.

"We believe that the pressure on

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