Another rate rise, but it's not over yet
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Another rate rise, but it’s not over yet

The RBA is resolute in its task to bring inflation under control

By Robyn Willis
Tue, Mar 7, 2023 3:49pmGrey Clock 2 min

The cash rate has hit its highest peak since 2012 following the RBA’s decision this afternoon to raise it by a further 25 basis points.

This will raise interest rates a further 0.25 percent to 3.6 percent, as predicted by most economists and the major banks earlier today. It marks the 10th consecutive rise since May 2022 and places the cash rate at 105 basis points above the pre-COVID decade average of 2.55 percent. For borrowers with a $500,000 mortgage, that adds about $160 more each month to repayments. 

Despite concerns expressed by various sectors of the community regarding the impacts of further pressure on household incomes, the Reserve Bank’s statement cited an ongoing commitment to driving down inflation as an influence on its decision.

“The Board’s priority is to return inflation to target,” the board said. “High inflation makes life difficult for people and damages the functioning of the economy. And if high inflation were to become entrenched in people’s expectations, it would be very costly to reduce later, involving even higher interest rates and a larger rise in unemployment. 

“The Board is seeking to return inflation to the 2–3 per cent target range while keeping the economy on an even keel, but the path to achieving a soft landing remains a narrow one.”

Responding to criticism from some quarters that the full effects of consecutive rate rises over the past 10 months has yet to be quantified, the board said it recognised that “monetary policy operates with a lag and that the full effect of the cumulative increase in interest rates is yet to be felt in mortgage payments” and that some households would be feeling the pinch more than others.

“Some households have substantial savings buffers, but others are experiencing a painful squeeze on their budgets due to higher interest rates and the increase in the cost of living,” it said.

Indicating that further rate rises could be on the way, the board said ‘further tightening of monetary policy will be needed’.

“The Board remains resolute in its determination to return inflation to target and will do what is necessary to achieve that.” 

The RBA is next due to meet on April 4.  



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Boost for World Economy as U.S., Eurozone Accelerate in Tandem

Surveys point to a fresh acceleration in the U.S., even as growth in the eurozone strengthens

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Global economic growth is becoming more broad based, with surveys indicating that business activity in both the U.S. and the eurozone gained momentum in May.

The eurozone economy contracted in the second half of 2023 following a surge in energy and food prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent rise in interest rates intended to tame that inflation.

By contrast, the U.S. economy expanded strongly over the same period, opening up an unusually wide growth gap with the eurozone. That gap narrowed as the eurozone returned to growth in the first three months of the year, while the U.S. slowed.

However, surveys released Thursday point to a fresh acceleration in the U.S., even as growth in the eurozone strengthened. That bodes well for a global economy that relied heavily on the U.S. for its dynamism in 2023.

The S&P Global Flash U.S. Composite PMI —which gauges activity in the manufacturing and services sectors—rose to 54.4 in May from 51.3 in April, marking a 25-month high and the first time since the beginning of the year that the index hasn’t slowed. A level over 50 indicates expansion in private-sector activity.

“The data put the U.S. economy back on course for another solid gross domestic product gain in the second quarter,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Eurozone business activity in turn increased for the third straight month in May, and at the fastest pace in a year, the surveys suggest. The currency area’s joint composite PMI rose to 52.3 from 51.7.

The uptick was led by powerhouse economy Germany, where continued strength in services and improvement in industry drove activity to its highest level in a year. That helped the manufacturing sector in the bloc as a whole grow closer to recovery, reaching a 15-month peak.

By contrast, surveys of purchasing managers pointed to a slowdown in the U.K. economy following a stronger-than-expected start to the year that saw it outpace the U.S. The survey was released a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a surprise election for early July, banking on signs of an improved economic outlook to turn around a large deficit in the opinion polls.

Similar surveys pointed to a further acceleration in India’s rapidly-expanding economy, and to a rebound in Japan, where the economy contracted in the first three months of the year. In Australia, the surveys pointed to a slight slowdown in growth during May.

Businesses reported that they were raising their prices at the slowest pace since November, which should reassure the European Central Bank. However, the eurozone continued to add jobs in May, suggesting that wages might not cool as rapidly as the ECB had hoped.

The ECB released figures Thursday that showed wages negotiated by labor unions in the eurozone were 4.7% higher in the first quarter than a year earlier, a faster increase than the 4.5% recorded in the final three months of 2023

The ECB has signalled it will lower its key interest rate in early June, while the Fed is waiting for evidence that a slowdown in inflation will resume after setbacks this year.

Nevertheless, eurozone businesses and households shouldn’t bank on successive cuts to borrowing costs, ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said. “There is a huge degree of uncertainty,” he said. “We have made no decisions on the number of interest rate cuts or on their size,” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We will see how economic data evolve.”

Continued resilience in the eurozone economy would likely make the ECB more cautious about lowering borrowing costs after its first move, economist Franziska Palmas at Capital Economics wrote in a note. “If the economy continues to hold up well, cuts further ahead may be slower than we had anticipated,” she said.

– Edward Frankl contributed to this story.

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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