Treasurer warns banks over interest rates

Australian treasurer Wayne Swan has warned the country's major banks that they risk alienating their customers if they hike interest rates.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) surprised many economists earlier this week when it opted not to lower the base rate to four per cent and now there are fears that some of the main lenders will see this as an opportunity to increase their own rates.

Experts have predicted that ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB may all make a readjustment before the RBA board members meet again in March.

Mr Swan has urged Aussies not to be bullied by the big four and has insisted that savings can be made by comparing bank accounts and other packages.

"The reforms we've put in place make it easier for families to ditch their bank if it doesn't do the right thing by them," he commented.

Last week, the Australian Associated Press conducted a survey, which found that 13 out of 14 economists believed the RBA would cut interest rates by 0.25 per cent in February.

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