Australia’s inflation rate continues to exceed forecasts, raising the likelihood of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) maintaining its current interest rate policy. This indicates that homeowners and buyers will likely experience a longer period of pain than expected before seeing relief. The latest Consumer Price Index data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals the following key points:

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI): Increased 3.6% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024, exceeding economist expectations of 3.5%.
  • Core Inflation (Trimmed Mean): Rose 4%, also above projections.
  • Market Response: Money markets reduced bets on RBA rate cuts this year. The Australian dollar gained 0.5% against the US dollar.
  • RBA Concerns: Persistent inflation above the RBA’s 2-3% target could lead to higher inflation expectations and require additional rate tightening to slow the economy.

Drivers of Inflation

  • Services Prices: Remain a concern due to their continued rise.
  • Housing Market: Rents are rising at the fastest pace in 15 years.

Additional Factors

  • Global Inflation: Australian inflation trends are not isolated, as price pressures remain elevated in other developed economies like the US.
  • Geopolitical Risks: Increased tensions could push prices higher for traded goods.
  • Australian Budget: Upcoming budget decisions in May could further influence inflation and consumer spending.

In Summary

Australian inflation is proving stubbornly high. This data supports the RBA’s view that they may need to keep interest rates higher for a longer period to bring inflation back within their target range. This means homeowners with mortgages and potential buyers will face continued financial pressure as borrowing costs remain elevated. The RBA will hold its next meeting on interest rates on 7 May.

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