NAB drops rate cut forecast for 2017

NAB drops rate cut forecast for 2017
NAB drops rate cut forecast for 2017

The RBA’s increased focus on financial stability, particularly record high household debts amid rising housing prices will likely keep the central bank from further rate cuts in 2017, according to a recent report by the NAB.

Recent comments from RBA officials raise the possibility that “macro-prudential measures may be stepped up” and a further rate cut is unlikely anytime soon, said the Forward View – Australia,  report for March by NAB Group Economics.

“We have removed our expectation of a 25bp rate cut in late 2017, although continue to flag the risk of further monetary policy easing at some point given our concerns about economic growth and the labour market in 2018,” it said.

It said the property markets in Sydney and Melbourne “continue to defy belief in 2017, with property prices showing no real signs of slowing despite tightening credit conditions and concerns about affordability”.

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NAB drops rate cut forecast for 2017

The report said the economy’s contraction in Q3 was only a temporary setback as it bounced back in Q4 with broad-based growth amid higher commodity prices.

But labour income continued to be weak, a fact pointed to recently by RBA Governor Philip Lowe who said that low wages growth and record high household debt are a sobering combination.

The report said housing finance has remained strong, especially for investors. Auction volumes are also solid, and auction clearance rates are up from the levels seen at the same time last year – suggesting the markets remain tight. 

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 NAB drops rate cut forecast for 2017

Elsewhere, price movements were relatively mixed in February, but the trends have generally been fairly positive in most markets. 

“Even Perth prices have been showing signs of stabilisation,” it said.

NAB says recent government measures to ease housing affordability, especially for first home buyers (FHB’s), could actually push prices higher.

The Victorian government recently announced stamp duty cuts for house sales under $600,000.

It said government measures along with the “the surprising momentum could suggest some further upside risk to our price forecasts”. 

Although, no further rate cuts would offset it to some extent. 

The research said it was leaving “our property price forecasts unchanged. Our national forecasts for 2017 are 3.4 percent for houses and 0.8 percent for units.”

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