Board members decided back then to leave the cash rate steady at 1.75%, as all economists had expected. With no surprise on the rate decision, the focus at the time was on the language of the RBA’s statement. The tone was broadly the same as the month before, but officials inserted a phrase that hinted that the release of the CPI data next week would in large part determine what the RBA does from here. The same message was apparent in today’s minutes.
On the broader document, there was an extended discussion of the likely fallout from the recent unexpected decision by UK voters to exit the European Union, the effects of which RBA officials believe will become clear only with the passage of time. Elsewhere in the minutes, the outlook for the world’s major economies had not changed that much, despite the UK “Brexit” vote, and the Bank’s discourse on economic conditions in Australia also sounded familiar. In fact, not much new domestic information has come to hand of late.
We didn’t interpret the insertion of the inflation guidance clause two weeks ago as meaning the Bank was edging towards cutting the cash rate again. There was, though, a clear nod to the importance of the Q2 inflation data, due for release next Wednesday, as well as upcoming data on the labour market and housing. If the inflation print next week is low, like the last reading, the RBA probably will lower the cash rate on 2 August - this is the consensus expectation of economists. In fact, only a material upside surprise on inflation next week will keep the RBA sidelined.
The latest futures market pricing implies the RBA will lower the cash rate at least one more time, and probably twice more, before the end of this year. The AICD forecast assumes only one more rate cut from the RBA, on 2 August, but more moves will be forthcoming if AUD stays close to its current level of 75.5 US cents. RBA officials have made clear they would prefer a lower AUD because it would aid the necessary rebalancing of the economy away from mining. Today’s minutes once again said that a higher AUD would “complicate” this adjustment.