RBA Holds Steady: Interest Rates Unchanged at 4.35% for Third Consecutive Time


Australia's central bank opted to maintain interest rates unchanged on Tuesday, signaling a shift in its stance on monetary tightening and indicating growing confidence in the resurgence of inflation to target levels amidst a slowdown in economic growth.

Following the end of its two-day meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia reaffirmed its decision to keep the interest rate unchanged at 4.35% for the third consecutive time. This rate stands as the highest in the past 12 years.

The bank also stated that it is not currently implementing any concrete measures to alter its policy. With markets anticipating a steady outcome, attention was drawn to the fact that inflation had reached its lowest point in the past two years, and economic growth had decelerated to a critical level.

The RBA Board statement emphasized that “the path of interest rates that will best ensure that inflation returns to target in a reasonable timeframe remains uncertain and the Board is not ruling anything in or out.” This marks a departure from previous statements, which had indicated the possibility of additional interest rate hikes.

During a post-meeting briefing, RBA Governor Michele Bullock refrained from commenting on whether the bank's policy had shifted to neutral, emphasizing that risks were "finely balanced" and dismissing the prospect of an immediate rate cut.

"We have to be prepared to watch data.... what it's telling us where things are heading and if that's changing our assessment and that's going to drive potential changes," Bullock remarked.

Analysts forecast that the RBA will eliminate the last remnants of its tightening bias during its June meeting, followed by a 25 basis point rate reduction in August, and another in November, ultimately reaching a year-end rate of 3.85%.

Both the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Goldman Sachs noted that the RBA transitioned from a biased stance toward rate tightening to a neutral position. ANZ emphasized a more easing-oriented approach, while the National Australia Bank labeled the shift in tone as "stylistic."

Despite predominantly weak domestic data, markets have diminished the likelihood of RBA tightening this year, primarily due to evolving expectations for US rates in response to persistent inflation. The Federal Reserve's inaugural rate cut is now anticipated in June or possibly July.

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