New Zealand softens stance

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept rates on hold for the eighth-straight month on Thursday but signalled it may cut in the second half of 2008.

At 8.25%, the benchmark official cash rate is now at an all-time high since its introduction in 1999. But Alan Bollard, the governor of the Reserve Bank, said that economic activity had weakened more markedly than it had predicted in March and that it now saw "significant downside risks to future activity."

"There have been sharp falls in consumer an

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