Steady RBA cash rate for a while yet | Ralph-Lauren

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Amid a blizzard of economic events this week, there seems little doubt over Reserve Bank making any change to its suite of policies when its board meets on Tuesday.

The central bank has already flagged that any changes to its bond targeting and buying program aimed at keeping market interest rates low will be announced at its July meeting.

As such, the cash rate is expected to remain at a record low 0.1 per cent.

Australian National University’s Timo Henckel expects the cash rate could remain unchanged for at least a year.

“The lockdown in Victoria serves as a potent reminder that COVID-19 can affect the domestic economy unexpectedly at any time, at least until a large proportion of the Australian population is vaccinated,” Dr Henckel said.

“Further fiscal and monetary stimulus is needed for the foreseeable future and so large budget deficits and low interest rates are likely to persist for years.”

Dr Henckel chairs the ANU’s so-called RBA shadow board, made up of academics and economists from the Crawford School of Public Policy.

It gives a 95 per cent chance of the cash rate remaining unchanged at Tuesday’s board meeting and a 62 per cent prediction of it staying unchanged in 12 months’ time.

The RBA does not expect to lift rates until 2024.

Dr Henckel notes that while the economic recovery has been gathering pace, which has seen the unemployment rate fall to 5.5 per cent, annual inflation was a mere 1.1 per cent and well below the RBA’s two-three per cent target.

The March quarter national accounts are due on Wednesday and are forecast to show the economy grew by 1.1 per cent.

This would leave the annual rate at 0.3 per cent, meaning the economy has now fully recovered from last year’s deep recession.

Meanwhile, the RBA will release its monthly credit report on Monday, which measures the amount of loans that are outstanding.

Economists expect a further 0.4 per cent increase in total credit in April, matching the same rise recorded for March, the biggest monthly rise in a year.

Of particular interest will be the strength of credit for housing purposes. In March, total housing loans rose 0.5 per cent for an annual rate of 4.1 per cent, the fastest pace in two years.

The RBA and other financial regulators are keeping a close eye on developments in the housing market to make sure lending standards are not deteriorating at a time of sharply rising house prices.


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