Inflation is dropping, just not fast or far enough

Whatever the figures say, Australians are feeling the pinch.

Whatever the figures say, Australians are feeling the pinch. Photo: AAP

Inflation is moderating but still too high and the monthly consumer price index will be watched keenly for further evidence of easing price pressures.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the February consumer price index data, a key of measure of inflation, on Wednesday.

After peaking at 7.8 per cent in December 2022, inflation has been coming down convincingly, growing by 4.1 per cent in the December quarter.

The latest official inflation markers, both monthly and quarterly, have come in softer than expected and bode well for the Reserve Bank’s fight against rising prices.

Yet the central bank still believes its got a long way to go before inflation is back within the two-three per cent target range.

Its latest forecasts have inflation reaching 3.3 per cent in mid-2024 and 3.1 per cent by June 2025, before finally falling within target at 2.8 per cent by the end of that year.

Taylor Swift effect

Australia will also get an update on retail sales from the statistics bureau this week.

The February dataset may get a boost from Taylor Swift concerts and other big music events, as already indicated by transaction data collected by banks.

On the same day, the ABS will also release new job vacancies and  finance and wealth data.

The Westpac and Melbourne Institute consumer confidence survey will also be released this week, on Tuesday.

Confidence levels have been recovering though remain firmly below trend.

US investors now see a more than 70 per cent chance of an interest rate cut hitting in June, up from 56 per cent just a few days ago.

Wall Street finished mixed on Friday, with the S&P 500 little changed but registering its biggest weekly percentage gain of 2024 after the US Federal Reserve stuck with projections for three cuts overall by year’s end.

The index lost 7.35 points, or 0.14 per cent, to end the day at 5,234.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 305.47 points, or 0.77 per cent, to 39,475.90 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 26.98 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 16,428.82.

Australian futures rose 7.000 points, or 0.08 per cent to 8041.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Friday finished 11.4 points lower at 7,770.6, a drop of 0.15 per cent, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 18.3 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 8,026.3.


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