RBA minutes, speech scoured for cash rate clues

rba minutes, speech scoured for cash rate clues

Minutes of the Reserve Bank’s last board meeting will offer context for the last cash rate decision

The minutes from the Reserve Bank’s last board meeting will offer some context for the last cash rate decision and, hopefully for borrowers, further signs the bank is readying for a pause.

The central bank hiked interest rates by another 25 basis points in March, taking the official cash rate to 3.6 per cent.

While the RBA remains committed to mowing down persistently high inflation, in communications following its last cash rate decision, governor Philip Lowe tempered his language and said the bank was getting closer to a pause.

The bank has since been confronted with another hot labour market read – largely unwinding the softness in December and January – and few signs of deteriorating business conditions in NAB’s February business survey.

But signs of financial instability overseas will likely work to offset indicators of strong momentum in the domestic economy.

Westpac has since updated its interest rate predictions for a lower terminal rate, with the bank’s economists now expecting a pause in April and one last 0.25 percentage point hike in May.

“Despite the better than anticipated employment report, we expect the risks around financial market developments and the evidence of the soft data since the February board meeting will prompt the RBA to use its ‘pause option’ in April,” chief economist Bill Evans wrote in a report.

ANZ economists have stuck with their earlier prediction of 25bps of tightening at both the April and May board meetings based on the robustness of the February jobs report.

As well as the minutes from the board meeting on Tuesday, a speech by RBA assistant governor, financial markets Christopher Kent will also be of interest.

Dr Kent is due to speak about “long and variable” lags in monetary policy at an event in Sydney on Monday.

On Tuesday, ANZ and Roy Morgan will release their weekly consumer confidence survey and on Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will drop the December quarter finance and wealth report.

Wall Street closed lower on Friday, marking the end of a tumultuous week dominated by an unfolding crisis in the banking sector and the gathering storm clouds of possible recession.

All three indexes ended the session deep in negative territory, with financial stocks down the most among the major sectors of the S&P 500.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 384.57 points, or 1.19 per cent, to 31,861.98, the S&P 500 lost 43.64 points, or 1.10 per cent, to 3,916.64 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 86.76 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 11,630.51.

Australian futures fell 98 points to 6921.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished close to the highs of the day on Friday, up 29.3 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 6,994.8, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 35.6 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 7,188.3.

For the week the ASX200 was down 2.6 per cent, its worst weekly loss since the week ending September 23. The week was also its sixth consecutive week of losses, its longest weekly losing streak since a nine-week stretch in mid-2008 during the GFC.

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