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Rate rises: Is the worst over?

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While many economists are forecasting another interest rate hike to come as early as March, one expert says further interest rate rises may not eventuate as Australia gets closer to the top of the rate cycle.

"I'm pretty confident we're pretty close to the top of the cycle because there are increasing signs of mortgage stress, consumer confidence and business confidence are falling, and the global economy is slowing," says AMP chief economist Shane Oliver.

"All these will have an impact on Australia's economy. At the same time, the pace of rate increases has been very fast, as banks independently raise their rates outside RBA. I believe we're getting to the end point here, but there will be pain before we get there," Oliver said.

Borrowers have been warned to prepare for more mortgage pain ahead as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) intensifies its fight against raging inflation.

The RBA said in a statement that "the risk of inflation remaining uncomfortably high for some time is considerable", prompting it to upgrade inflation forecasts and downgrade its economic outlook prediction. "Absent a further shift in economic risk to the downside, therefore, monetary policy is likely to need to be tighter in the period ahead," the RBA said.

Some economists have forecast the next rate hike of 0.25% to come as early as March and a further 0.25% rise in May.

"The simple message for borrowers is to factor in further rate hikes," said CommSec chief economist Craig James. "The RBA doesn't expect inflation to be comfortably back inside the 2-3% target band for at least another two years. That means there will be ongoing risks of higher interest rates - not just in the next few months but for some time to come."

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