The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to hold the cash rate for the second month in a row, leaving it at 4.10%.
The decision was in line with ANZ and NAB economists’ forecast of a rate pause.
RBA Governor Philip Lowe said the higher interest rates are effectively promoting a more sustainable equilibrium between supply and demand within the economy, and this effect is expected to persist moving forward.
“In light of this and the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook, the Board again decided to hold interest rates steady this month. This will provide further time to assess the impact of the increase in interest rates to date and the economic outlook,” he said.
Here are the highlights from monetary policy decision statement from Philip Lowe:
- Inflation in Australia is declining but is still too high at 6%. While there has been a moderation in goods price inflation, the prices of numerous services continue to rise at a rapid pace.
- The central forecast is for CPI inflation to continue to decline, to be around 3.25% by the end of 2024 and to be back within the 2% to 3% target range in late 2025.
On labour market:
- Conditions remained tight despite minor easing — job vacancies and advertisements remain at high levels, but labour shortages have lessened.
- With the economy and employment forecast to grow below trend, the unemployment rate is expected to rise gradually from its current rate of 3.5% to around 4.5% late next year.
On the economy:
- The Australian economy is currently undergoing a phase of below-trend growth, and this trend is projected to persist for the foreseeable future.
- Both household consumption and dwelling investment are displaying weak growth rates.
- The central forecast estimates GDP growth at approximately 1.75% in 2024, with a slight improvement to a little above 2% in the subsequent year.
On uncertainties and RBA’s priorities:
- Returning to inflation target remains the priority.
- To date, medium-term inflation expectations have been consistent with the inflation target, and it is important that this remains the case.
- The recent data are consistent with inflation returning to the 2% to 3% target range over the forecast horizon and with output and employment continuing to grow.
- Services price inflation has been surprisingly persistent overseas and the same could occur in Australia.
- While some households are facing financial constraints and challenges, others are benefiting from increased housing prices, substantial savings buffers, and higher interest income.
- To ensure that inflation returns to the target within a reasonable timeframe, there might be a need for additional tightening of monetary policy.
CreditorWatch economist Anneke Thompson said there are already signs that economic conditions are cooling as a result of the series of rate hikes that started in May 2022.
“And while the unemployment rate is still at record low levels, the forward indicators of employment conditions all point to a much tighter jobs market going forward.”
Ms Anneke said the likely upwards movement in unemployment rate over the second half of 2023 would further reduce inflationary and wages pressure.
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