RBA signals rate hike as next move

RESERVE_BANK_AUSTRALIAThe Reserve Bank has acknowledged that the next move in the official cash rate will likely be a hike, a move that would end several years of record low interest rates.

In minutes released of the RBA’s April 3 board meeting, members agreed with a view previously shared by Governor Phillip Lowe that a move up from record low rates was probably on the horizon.

“Members agreed that it was more likely that the next move in the cash rate would be up, rather than down,” the minutes said.

The official cash rate currently sits at a record low of 1.5 per cent, where it has been since August 2016.

Board members did not commit to a timeline on any hike, saying they expected slow progress on unemployment and inflation objectives.

“There was not a strong case for a near-term adjustment in monetary policy,” the minutes said.

ANZ Bank’s head of Australian economists David Plank said that the acknowledgement by the Board that a hike would likely be the next rate move was an interesting development, but that the RBA is a way off acting on its view.

“The RBA is a long way from acting on its tightening bias,” he said.

“The uncertainty about the outlook for household spending will constrain action on the part of the Bank until wages accelerate meaningfully and the Bank gets more comfortable with how the shift from interest only loans to principal and interest loans is impacting.”

The current market consensus for a rate hike is mid-2019, with the ANZ saying any hike is unlikely until May of that year at the earliest.

The RBA also noted declining house prices in Sydney and Melbourne in its April minutes, but indicated it wasn’t overly concerned.

“Declines in house prices of around 10 per cent in some cities had occurred several times over the preceding 15 years or so,” the minutes said.

In remarks earlier this month Lowe said that there were signs that the rate of wage growth had “troughed”, signalling positive signs from tightening labour markets.

Access exclusive analysis, locked news and reports with Inside Retail Weekly. Subscribe today and get our premium print publication delivered to your door every week.

You have 7 articles remaining. Unlock 15 free articles a month, it’s free.