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The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Board raised the cash rate by 0.25% to 2.60% at its October 2022 meeting, a lower increase than many expected. The lower than expected rise suggests that inflation pressures, particularly wages growth, will be more subdued in Australia than overseas. Comparatively, Australian households are more sensitive to interest rates with more than 60% of mortgages variable rate loans. This is unlike the US where most borrowers are on 30-year fixed loans.
The increase in interest rates is starting to take effect helping to restore price stability. However, in its statement, the RBA said that it will be a challenge to return inflation to 2-3% while at the same time “keeping the economy on an even keel”. It concluded the path to achieving this balance is “a narrow one and it is clouded in uncertainty”.
In housing, the correction in house prices deepened and broadened across Australia, with capital city prices falling by 1.4% in September 2022, rounding out a 4.3% decline over the third quarter. Housing finance approvals also continued to mirror the broader correction to date, with further declines across investor and owner-occupier loans.
So, where does all of this leave us? Inflation will stay higher for longer than originally anticipated. As a result, interest rates are expected to continue to increase, albeit at a slower rate, with the RBA resetting their view along the journey. Economists are predicting that the cash rate will increase to somewhere between 3.10% and 3.85% in the first half of 2023 and then remain stable until early 2024 before RBA policy pivots and interest rates lower in early 2024.