RBA keeps rates on hold for record 18th consecutive meeting

RBA keeps rates on hold for record 18th consecutive meeting
RBA keeps rates on hold for record 18th consecutive meeting

The third meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia for 2018 saw no change in the official cash rate.

The central bank's last move saw it go to 1.5 percent at the August 2016 meeting, so rates have been held steady for 18 meetings.

It was 19 meetings ago that they last came down. 

Almost every economist predicted a hold at the first meeting of the year. 

31 of 32 experts in Finder.com.au's RBA survey had predicted a cash rate hold.

Just Mark Crosby from Monash University expected a rise to 1.75 percent. 

Canstar group executive Steve Mickenbecker said they couldn't see the RBA raising rates.

"The Reserve Bank will want to see inflation, in particular wages growth, before it increases rates," Mickenbecker said.

He said so much has been happening that you have to ask if the Reserve Bank's decision matters anyway.

“The big banks have brought out low rate promotional offers on their base products.

"They usually don't deliver rate reductions for existing borrowers and they are often not even available to existing customers.

“Borrowers now have a huge choice of loans that have an interest rate starting with a three. 

"Canstar's website lists 324 loans with an interest rate below 4%."

“Rates are going to go up, and with the deals around now, it is also a good time to consider whether fixing for a few years might be right for you.”

CoreLogic's head of research Tim Lawless says a softening slowdown will likely be welcomed by the RBA.

"Housing market conditions are likely to be moving further down the RBA’s list of priorities, considering the market is showing every sign of moving through a soft landing, with the pace of value decline easing over recent months," he said.

"The controlled slowdown in the housing sector is likely to be a welcome outcome from the RBA, who are more likely to be focussing on labour markets, where the rate of unemployment, although lower than a year ago, crept higher, from 5.4% to 5.5% in February.

"With some slack in labour markets, wages growth remains close to record lows, which is keeping a lid on inflation and household consumption. 

"National dwelling values were flat last month, however six of the eight capital cities saw dwelling values slip lower in March, albeit at a reduced rate of decline relative to other months.

"Despite the hold decision from the RBA, mortgage rates remain close to historic lows, particularly for owner occupiers who are paying down both their interest and principal.

"Investors are facing a mortgage rate premium of around 60 basis points, but relative to long term averages, their mortgage rates are low. 

"While the RBA has flagged the next move in interest rates will be a rise, it remains likely that any hike to the cash rate is well in the future. 


Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson is a property journalist based in Sydney. Joel has been writing about the residential real estate market for the last five years, specializing in market trends and the economics and finance behind buying and selling real estate.

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