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Australia Monetary Policy July 2023

Australia: RBA stands pat in July; reiterates further hikes possible ahead

At its monetary policy meeting on 4 July, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left the official cash rate (OCR) unchanged at 4.10%. The decision to stand pat follows a cumulative 400 basis point increase in the OCR since May 2022.

The Bank decided to hold rates unchanged for two motives. First, previous hikes are already having a dampening effect on inflation. Second, the Bank wants time to assess the impact of prior tightening. Inflation is moderating but it is expected by the Bank to remain above the 3.0% target until at least 2025. Therefore, elevated inflation could become entrenched in expectations, requiring more aggressive tightening ahead to curb it.

The Bank maintained a hawkish tone in its communiqué, reiterating that “further tightening of monetary policy may be required to ensure that inflation returns to target in a reasonable timeframe”. Moreover, the RBA specified that it “remains resolute in its determination to return inflation to target and will do what is necessary to achieve that”, adding that data and the evolving outlooks for inflation, domestic demand, the labor market and the global economy would guide future monetary policy decisions. Our panelists currently expect the RBA to hike slightly further by the end of the year.

Commenting on the outlook, Lee Sue Ann, economist at UOB, said:

“We think the RBA will likely push for a 25bps rate hike at the 1 August monetary policy meeting, particularly if the jobs market remains strong. Employment strength has been a key factor in the RBA’s confidence that Australia can avoid a recession. Note that the August meeting will also be when the RBA updates growth and inflation forecasts.”

The next monetary policy meeting is scheduled for 1 August.

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