RBA opts for further interest pause as it mulls inflation outlook

Interest rates are on hold in October for a fourth straight month

Interest rates are on hold in October for a fourth straight month Photo: AAP

The Reserve Bank has left interest rates on hold for a fourth month in a row, delivering yet another month of mortgage relief for hard-hit families.

The cash rate target will remain at 4.1 per cent, where it has stood since the last rate hike in July.

RBA governor Michelle Bullock, delivering her first rate decision in the top job at the central bank, said inflation is easing but remains too high.

“Inflation in Australia has passed its peak but is still too high and will remain so for some time yet,” Ms Bullock said in a statement.

“Timely indicators on inflation suggest that goods price inflation has eased further, but the prices of many services are continuing to rise briskly and fuel prices have risen noticeably of late.”

Economists had expected another pause in October despite recent rises in petrol prices sparking fears price growth is starting to pick up again.

The expectation was that central bankers would look through the bowser squeeze and concentrate instead on the slowing economy, with inflation set to ease back into the RBA’s 2-3 per cent target range by late 2025.

But Ms Bullock said on Tuesday that further rate hikes were still possible if inflation proves more stubborn than the RBA anticipates in late 2023.

“Some further tightening of monetary policy may be required to ensure that inflation returns to target in a reasonable timeframe,” she said.

“But that will continue to depend upon the data and the evolving assessment of risks.”

Another month of paused interest rates is welcome news for families who have been hit hard over the past year by huge mortgage bill hikes.

More than $1100 has been added to monthly repayments on a typical $500,000, 25 year home loan since May 2022.

That’s pushed mortgage stress to record highs, with Roy Morgan data on Tuesday revealing 1.57 million Australians are now “at risk”.

That figure has risen 750,000 over the past year, Roy Morgan said.

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