Reserve Bank shelves formal rate hike talk

Everything you need to know about interest rate decisions

Source: TND

Australia’s Reserve Bank board did not consider another hike in the cash rate at its last meeting, official minutes have revealed.

The decision to leave interest rates untouched at 4.35 per cent – for the fifth month in a row – was widely expected at the meeting held over two days last month.

The board did discuss the case for another lift in interest rates at its February meeting, despite a pause also being widely anticipated then.

But any such deliberation was absent in the minutes from the March talks, which were released on Tuesday.

Nor was there any discussion of a first cut to rates since hikes began almost two years ago.

Commonwealth Bank head of Australian economics Gareth Aird described the March minutes as “the most dovish piece of communication from the board since the RBA commenced its tightening cycle in May 2022”.

“The board behind closed doors will view the likely next move in the cash rate as down,” he said – although it was “too early for the board to shift to an easing bias”.

The CBA predicts rate cuts will begin in September, with three this year altogether and three more in 2025.

However, the minutes were released on the same day as data that showed Australian house prices continue to rise steadily. CoreLogic found prices were up 0.6 per cent in March – the 14th straight month of rising real estate values.

Sustained property price growth is likely to be a key concern for the RBA as it mulls future interest decisions, as any cut in rates is likely to fuel further increases.

In the minutes released on Tuesday, RBA board members stressed that the latest economic data was broadly as expected and had not “materially changed” their views on the outlook.

“They decided to emphasise that the data indicated the economy was tracking broadly as expected and that while there were significant uncertainties, the risks seemed broadly balanced,” the minutes stated.

The board also reiterated its flexible stance on future interest rate movements already communicated in the post-meeting statement.

“Members agreed that it was therefore not possible to either rule in or out future changes in the cash rate target,” they said.

Members did dissect risks to the outlook, including if inflation stayed high as “productivity growth did not increase sustainably or if services price inflation proved stickier than assumed”.

On the other hand, consumers could remain cautious and risk a bigger economic slowdown than expected.

“In particular, the recovery in real household disposable income growth may not lift consumption growth if households do not respond as expected, perhaps because of a weakening in the labour market,” the minutes read.

“On balance, members considered that the relative probability of these two sets of risks had become a little more even, as the incoming data had not indicated a materialisation of upside risks to inflation and as growth in output had slowed as expected.”

– with AAP

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.