RBA on hold as expected, but signals a slightly stronger easing bias: AMP Capital's Shane Oliver

RBA on hold as expected, but signals a slightly stronger easing bias: AMP Capital's Shane Oliver
RBA on hold as expected, but signals a slightly stronger easing bias: AMP Capital's Shane Oliver

GUEST OBSERVER

There have been no surprises from the RBA which left interest rates on hold at its March meeting. This marks the tenth month in a row with the cash rate remaining at 2 percent.

In its Statement accompanying the decision, the RBA made very little changes: continuing to sound less upbeat on the global economic outlook, acknowledging the volatility in financial markets, continuing to see inflation remaining low and seeing property price gains 

in Sydney and Melbourne as having moderated.

The RBA also indicated that it is continuing to wait for more information in order to be able the impact of financial turbulence on the Australian economy and to assess the labour market. 

However, it did make too substantive changes to its post meeting Statement. In removing a reference to above average levels for survey measures of business conditions and in saying that “continued low inflation would [as opposed to “may” in the February Statement] provide scope for easier policy, should that be appropriate…” the RBA appears to have strengthened its easing bias somewhat.  

Our view remains that the RBA will cut interest rates again this year reflecting the risks around the global economy, weaker than expected commodity prices, still subdued growth in Australia at a time when the contribution from housing construction is slowing, a more dovish Fed threatening a higher Australian dollar and continued low inflation. However, this may not come till May. Given the RBA’s focus on inflation the March quarter CPI to be released in late April will be worth watching.

However, whether there is another rate cut or not from the RBA, it remains very hard to see rate hikes any time soon. So the period of low interest rates is set to continue.

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 RBA on hold as expected, but signals a slightly stronger easing bias: AMP Capital's Shane Oliver

SHANE OLIVER is head of investment strategy and economics and chief economist at AMP Capital and is responsible for AMP Capital's diversified investment funds.

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Interest Rates Reserve Bank

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