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Commonwealth Bank Adjusts Rate Cut Timeline Amidst Labor Market Trends

Commonwealth Bank Adjusts Rate Cut Timeline Amidst Labor Market Trends

As financial experts eagerly await the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) upcoming board meeting, the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has shifted its forecast regarding the advent of the next rate cut.
Contrary to popular anticipation, the bank now predicts the rate cut will be delayed, posing less optimistic news for mortgage holders seeking financial reprieve.

The financial community widely expects the RBA to keep the cash rate stable during this session, a forecast deemed straightforward in light of the recent federal budget. However, CBA's latest insights suggest the easing cycle—initially anticipated to alleviate strained mortgage holders—will be postponed due to prevailing uncertainties surrounding inflation forecasts.

Gareth Aird, CBA's head of Australian economics, indicated that recent labor market data shows little motivation for the RBA to alter its policy direction. According to Aird, the current state of the labor market, characterized by a "loosening" at essential levels, supports a prediction that the RBA will maintain the cash rate unchanged.

"Both trend unemployment and underemployment are experiencing a gradual upward trajectory," Aird stated in the latest CBA Economics update. "Work hours are declining, and job advertisements show a discernible downward trend."

Highlighting these labor market dynamics, Aird elaborated, "Our expectation for a more significant loosening in the labor market, which varies from the RBA’s forecasts, is a principal reason why we foresee the commencement of an easing cycle in late 2024. Yet, given the persistent challenges with underlying inflation and the shrinking period to November, the likelihood of a delayed start to the easing cycle is increasing."

The economic slowdown was further highlighted by the first-quarter GDP data, which grew by a mere 0.1%. Over six months, the annualized GDP growth pace reduced to 0.8%. The RBA's current forecast places the average unemployment rate at 4.0% over the second quarter, consistent with recent predictions.

Aird noted, "Despite the bank’s non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment estimated at 4.3%, there remains significant uncertainty regarding these projections." Additionally, RBA Governor Michelle Bullock opined that the federal government’s $300 energy bill rebate is unlikely to either significantly mitigate or exacerbate inflation levels.

Aird supported this view, referencing earlier CBA economic predictions that the rebates might subtract two-thirds of a percentage point from the third quarter’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). "While this impact is noteworthy, the RBA is more focused on the core inflation dynamics, which excludes the effects of energy rebates," he remarked.

"Our perspective is that the mechanical reduction in headline inflation for Q3, due to rebates, will potentially lower short-term inflation expectations for households and businesses, helping stabilize wage expectations over 2024 and 2025," Aird added.

The RBA's accompanying statement to its board decision is expected to maintain a neutral stance. Despite the fluctuating dynamics and economic signals, Aird emphasized that predicting the exact timing for the commencement of an easing cycle remains inherently uncertain.

Published:Saturday, 15th Jun 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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