Rising profile for underlying inflation is significant: ANZ's Felicity Emmett

Jonathan ChancellorFebruary 9, 20170 min read


With the RBA now expecting underlying inflation to move into the middle of the target band by the end of the forecast period, the Bank seems firmly on hold. 

The Bank sees wages growth to be broadly unchanged this year, as some of the factors which have been holding down wages dissipate, after which it picks up gradually over 2018 and 2019. 

 We continue to see the cash rate on hold at 1.5 percent. 

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The rising profile for underlying inflation is significant. The new forecast profile for underlying inflation shows inflation running between 1½-2½ percent until the end of 2018, after which it ticks up to 2-3 percent by mid-2019. While this is still a solid two years away it suggests that the Bank is more confident that inflation will eventually pick up. The Bank notes that some of the factors that have been holding down inflation, like the falling terms of trade and the decline in mining employment, are dissipating and also cites “evidence from surveys and liaison with firms suggesting that wage growth is unlikely to ease further”. 

There were significant downward revisions to GDP growth in the near term and small downward revisions further out but we would not read too much into these. That is, the downgrade to the near term forecasts reflects base effects from the (temporary) weakness in Q3 GDP, while the small downgrade to the further out forecasts to 2¾-3¾, rather than the previous 3-4, in our view seems a much more achievable estimate. The Bank noted that it has lifted its forecasts for trading partner growth and the terms of trade, but lowered its estimates for consumer spending and employment growth.

Interestingly, the RBA published the unemployment rate forecasts in its table for the first time. It expects the unemployment rate at 5-6 percent over the forecast horizon, broadly similar to the previous forecasts included in its chart.

The RBA seems accepting of the level of the AUD. The currency hardly rated a mention in today’s SoMP which, together with Governor Lowe’s comments last night, suggests that at current levels the RBA sees the dollar as close to fair value.

Felicity Emmett co-head of Australian economics, ANZ Research and can be contacted here.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.
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