BORROWERS have been spared more cash rate pain at the final Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting of the year.
Australian mortgage holders have been gifted an early Christmas present as the Reserve Bank chooses to leave interest rates untouched.
The board has decided to leave the cash rate at 4.35% at the December meeting in a move most forecasters saw coming.
The pause follows 425 basis points of increases to the cash rate since May last year that has pushed repayments up steeply for variable-rate mortgage holders.
Higher interest rates are aimed at bringing down inflation, which has been moderating but remains well below the 2–3% target range.
The December call followed a month of softer data, including a slowdown in the monthly inflation gauge to 4.9% in October, from 5.6% in September.
A weaker retail sales report suggests consumers are cautious and cracks are starting to appear in the labour market.
In a post-meeting statement, RBA governor Michele Bullock again left the door open to more tightening in phrasing recycled from the month before.
“Whether further tightening of monetary policy is required… will depend upon the data and the evolving assessment of risks,” Ms Bullock said.
Upcoming decisions remain data dependent, with the RBA to keep a close eye on “developments in the global economy, trends in domestic demand.
‘‘And the outlook for inflation and the labour market”.
KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne said the central bank appeared ready to react to new economic data.
In particular, the evolution of the home-grown component of inflation.
The central bank governor has repeatedly warned inflation now has a domestic element to it.
Thi is as well as supply side drivers – which means interest rates are effective at bringing it down.
Dr Rynne said more rate rises could not be ruled out but KPMG’s central case was more tightening was probably unnecessary.
“Price momentum is heading in the right direction,” he said.
Deloitte Access Economics partner Stephen Smith said demand-side price pressures were “part of the story: “but the supply side remained the key source of inflation.