The RBA’s official cash rate of 4.35% remained steady after 2024’s first monthly board meeting on monetary policy.
This marks the second consecutive pause in monetary policy from Martin Place, following the decision to maintain rates in December 2023.
Recent inflation data played a decisive role in today’s announcement, signifying a potential turning point in the battle against inflation, with numerous experts now anticipating an interest rate cut later this year.
‘Inflation continued to ease in the December quarter. Despite this progress, inflation remains high at 4.1%. Goods price inflation was lower than the RBA’s November forecasts,’ noted the RBA today.
‘It has continued to ease, reflecting the resolution of earlier global supply chain disruptions and a moderation in domestic demand for goods.’
What is clear is that there are encouraging signs on the inflation front, highlighted by a welcome 5% drop in petrol prices in December.
In fact, the CPI registered just a 0.6% increase in the last quarter of 2023, the lowest quarterly inflation uptick since March 2021.
This brought the annual inflation rate down from 5.4% to 4.1%, a figure not seen since the December quarter of 2021.
Compare that to December 2022 when inflation hit 7.8%. Let’s see if inflation can reach the RBA’s target band of 2-3% in the next 12 months.
Consensus among major financial institutions and experts is pointing towards 2024 as the year for a rate cut. However, predicting the exact timing of this remains uncertain.
Economist Warren Hogan of Judo Bank predicts a rate reduction in November.
Even more bullish is Chief Economist Stephen Halmarick of the Commonwealth Bank who envisions substantial cuts of 0.75% in 2024, with an additional 0.75% reduction expected in late 2025.
Westpac is anticipating the initial rate cut possibly occurring in August, while NAB foresees rates holding steady until November.
There is a sense of great progress in the ongoing battle against inflation. Some are even saying with confidence that the war is close to being won.
Needless to say, the RBA added a caveat to today’s news.
‘While there are encouraging signs, the economic outlook is uncertain and the Board remains highly attentive to inflation risks… and a further increase in interest rates cannot be ruled out.’
This should be a very interesting year on the rates front.
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Michael began his career in the finance industry over 35 years ago. He progressed through the ranks at the CBA in both retail and corporate lending, culminating in a senior position as a Corporate Relationship Executive. His decision to leave the bank in 2003 to become an independent mortgage broker was driven by his desire to assist everyday customers break through the jargon of the banking world and access the best loan products in the market. His experience is wide-ranging from helping first time buyers to large commercial enterprises. What Michael doesn’t know about home loans, simply isn’t worth knowing!