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Australia inflation cools, boosts case for pause

Tan KW
Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 11:25 AM
Tan KW
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SYDNEY: Australia’s monthly inflation gauge snapped two months of acceleration in October, bolstering the case for the central bank to resume pausing interest rates next week.

The consumer price indicator rose 4.9% from a year earlier, the first reading for the fourth quarter and was lower than economists’ estimates of 5.2%, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed yesterday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raised rates earlier this month as inflation has proved sticky and the economy and labor market show more resilience than anticipated. The cash rate currently stands at 4.35%, a 12-year high.

The yield on the policy-sensitive three-year bonds fell following the data as traders trimmed bets that the RBA will move again sometime next year.

Swaps are pricing about a 50% chance of a hike in 2024, down from about 70% beforehand.

Yesterday’s report showed that when excluding volatile items, annual inflation eased to 5.1% from 5.5%.

“The surprisingly sharp slowdown in October inflation could spell the end of the RBA’s rate-hiking cycle.

“The central bank is likely to maintain a hawkish stance at its next meeting on Dec 5 in order to keep sustained pressure on inflation expectations,” said economist James McIntyre.

The release comes as inflation gauges in the United States and eurozone are set to show the smallest annual increases since early or mid-2021, reinforcing sentiment that rates in those jurisdictions won’t be raised again.

Yesterday’s report is one of the last major pieces of data that RBA governor Michele Bullock will see before the policy meeting next Tuesday, when the central bank’s board is expected to hold rates steady.

Helping to support spending and prices, Australia’s labour market remains tight, with hiring staying strong and the jobless rate holding in a 3.4% to 3.7% range since June last year.

 - Bloomberg

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