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RBA reveals August 2023 cash rate call

After holding the cash rate at 4.1 per cent last month, will the Reserve Bank increase the rate or continue to hold it? Find out in this special announcement, brought to you by Legal Home Loans.

user iconLawyers Weekly 01 August 2023 Big Law
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After 12 rate rises in the last 14 months, the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to hold the cash rate at 4.1 per cent in its August interest rate decision – the RBA’s seventh cash rate decision for 2023.

In a statement, RBA governor Philip Lowe said that conditions in the labour market remain very tight, although they have eased a little.

“Interest rates have been increased by 4 percentage points since May last year. The higher interest rates are working to establish a more sustainable balance between supply and demand in the economy and will continue to do so. In light of this and the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook, the board again decided to hold interest rates steady this month. This will provide further time to assess the impact of the increase in interest rates to date and the economic outlook.

 
 

“Inflation in Australia is declining but is still too high at 6 per cent. Goods price inflation has eased, but the prices of many services are rising briskly. Rent inflation is also elevated. The central forecast is for CPI inflation to continue to decline, to be around 3¼ per cent by the end of 2024 and to be back within the 2–3 per cent target range in late 2025,” he said.

“The Australian economy is experiencing a period of below-trend growth and this is expected to continue for a while. Household consumption growth is weak, as is dwelling investment. The central forecast is for GDP growth of around 1¾ per cent over 2024 and a little above 2 per cent over the following year.”

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Legal Home Loans general manager Aylin Unsal said that another pause came as no surprise, as the “sharp hikes” as of late will need some time to have an impact on inflation.

“Currently, the average interest rate range we are seeing for residential loans is approximately between 5.8–6.85 per cent, depending on the product and your borrowing profile. A sharp incline since the 4.5–5.0 per cent average we were seeing at the beginning of this year.

“We are seeing fixed rates increase across the board, from which we can infer that banks expect we are at or near the cash rate peak. Depending on the lender, variable rates are lower by 10–50 basis points, so we are seeing most clients opt for a variable structure.”

However, while there is no certainty of future cash rate movements, Ms Unsal said LHL anticipates a further increase this year to help curb inflation and reduce it back down to less than 3 per cent.

“If you are feeling financially distressed, your lender should be able to provide temporary options to assist your situation. We recommend anyone in this situation to contact their bank directly. Doing so will not impact your credit history, and it is better to reach out early before falling into arrears,” she added.

“While the future can feel unknown, lawyers should know that their advantaged position with lenders has not changed. Exclusive benefits, such as waived lenders mortgage insurance when buying with a deposit less than 20 per cent, are very much available.”

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