Cash rate to stay steady this year and into next: CBA's Gareth Aird

Cash rate to stay steady this year and into next: CBA's Gareth Aird
Cash rate to stay steady this year and into next: CBA's Gareth Aird

The Minutes of the August Board meeting were a low key affair, as anticipated.

There has been plenty of communication from the RBA over the past two weeks including the August Statement on Monetary Policy (SMP) and RBA Governor Philip Lowe’s appearance before the House of Representations Standing Committee on Economics.

In that context, today’s Minutes were unlikely to contain any major surprises.

On Friday, the Governor endorsed market pricing that the next move in rates is up when he said, “the current market pricing implies a greater probability of a rate rise than a rate reduction, I think they are reasonable assumptions and I don't want to dissuade them.”

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Cash rate to stay steady this year and into next: CBA's Gareth Aird

This view was backed up in today’s Minutes as the Board dropped their reference from the July Minutes around developments in the labour market continuing to warrant careful monitoring.

For the record, in the July Minutes it was stated that: “the outlook for growth and inflation meant that developments in the labour and housing markets continued to warrant careful monitoring.”

In the August Minutes that statement was tweaked to, “members regarded conditions in the housing market and household balance sheets as continuing to warrant careful monitoring”. This is a less dovish stance.

But we don’t think it materially changes the outlook for rates; it simply validates current market pricing.

The Board continues to sound relatively upbeat on recent developments in the global economy.

In particular, it was noted that, “economic conditions had strengthened over the prior year and the improvement had broadened beyond international trade.”

A gradual increase in global inflation is forecast despite wage growth and core inflation remaining “subdued” as labour market have tightened.

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Cash rate to stay steady this year and into next: CBA's Gareth Aird

The Bank’s assessment of the domestic economy contained nothing new compared with the August SMP.

But on the outlook for inflation, the Board noted that some forthcoming ABS rejigging with the CPI weightings will lead to slightly lower reported inflation from Q4 2017.

This information was incorporated into the RBA’s latest inflation forecasts and doesn’t appear to have meaningfully impacted their numbers.

On housing, the Board suggested that, “conditions had eased since late 2016” in Sydney in Melbourne.

We are not as convinced as the Board.

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Cash rate to stay steady this year and into next: CBA's Gareth Aird

In our view there is very little evidence that conditions in the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets have cooled. In fact, after a seasonal slump in prices in May, the annual growth rates of dwelling prices have accelerated in Australia’s two largest cities.

From a monetary policy perspective, today’s Minutes were never going to be the most important event on the domestic economic this week.

Updates on wages {Wage Price Index (16/8) and Average Weekly Earnings (17/8)} and employment (17/8) are more significant.

There has been some genuine strength in the monthly employment reports over the past four months which means there has been a gradual tightening in the labour market.

But it remains to be seen if it will generate any lift in wages growth.

As a result, the data to come over the next 48 hours is particularly important.

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Cash rate to stay steady this year and into next: CBA's Gareth Aird

From our vantage point, we think that we are still some way from labour market slack being eroded sufficiently to put genuine upward pressure on wages.

As a result, we see policy on hold until deep into 2018.

Gareth Aird is a senior economist at the Commonwealth Bank.

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Rba Rate Decision Cba

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