Rationale behind RBA’s December rates call on show

Australia’s central bank left interest rates on hold at the final meeting of the year and the logic behind that call will be laid out in the minutes.

Scheduled for release on Tuesday, the minutes from the Reserve Bank’s December meeting will likely be the last communication from the central bank until the board assembles again in February.

The RBA has increased interest rates by 425 basis points since May last year in a bid to bring down still-high inflation.

The tightening cycle has made servicing a variable rate mortgage much more expensive and the pressure on households is clear.

National accounts data released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics after the last cash rate meeting showed the economy stalling over the September quarter, with household consumption flat.

Commonwealth Bank’s head of Australian economics Gareth Aird said the economy was slowing more quickly than the RBA was anticipating, based on its most up-to-date forecasts.

In a note, he said the minutes would likely show the board debating the case to lift the cash rate or keep it on hold.

“But ultimately we think the decision to leave the cash rate on hold in December will have been a straightforward one,” Mr Aird said.

“The recent data rubber stamps that was the correct policy choice.”

There will be few major data releases in the wind down to the end of the year, but the ABS will release finance and wealth statistics on Thursday.

Local investors will digest comments from Federal Reserve Bank of New York president John Williams, who said it was too soon to be talking about rate cuts.

The US S&P 500 lost 0.36 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 4,719.19 on Friday, but still notched its seventh straight week of gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.81 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 37,305.16, while the Nasdaq Composite added 52.36 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 14,813.92.

Australian futures fell 74 points to 7381.

Local shares rose for a sixth straight day as the market produced its second-best week of the year.

The S&P/ASX200 index on Friday finished up 64.8 points, or 0.88 per cent, to 7,442.7, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 62.5 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 7,661.9.


Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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