The RBA hiked by 50 bps as expected on Tuesday this week to 2.35 but stated that it is not on a pre-set path. The RBA is trying to balance the timing of an economy that it sees slowing at some point in the future. The key focus remains for the RBA on household spending and it is uncertain about how that will react to the combination of higher interest rates and the highest inflation Australia has seen since the 1990s.

An uncertain outlook

The RBA stated that the future rate path is uncertain because of global pressures. High inflation is cutting into spending power across the globe, most countries are tightening monetary policy, Russia’s actions in Ukraine and China’s Zero Covid policy are all significant factors. However, the path from here is highly uncertain.

Labour market is strong

Australia focused on the labour market being strong and recognised that the unemployment rate was the lowest it has been for 50 years at 3.4% for July. So, the labour jobs miss in the middle of August was only seen as a blip in an otherwise healthy trend. The RBA expects some increase in the unemployment rate as economic growth slows and recognises that the full force of higher interest rates has not yet made its way into mortgage payments.

The outlook for the AUD

It is a mixed outlook for the AUD and hard to pick a clear direction. The recent strains on China’s economy have been weighing on the AUD and the various stimulus packages have had little impact on lifting the China 50. The property sector is suffering from very poor sentiment and that, combined with China’s Zero Covid policy, is weighing on expectations for China’s economic activity going forward. The AUD is closely impacted by the outlook for China’s economy. So, with the AUD outlook unclear it is probably best to only look for short-term opportunities in the near term. See the full RBA statement here.