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RBA keeps rates steady, offers no surprises in Lowe’s final meeting

Published Sep 05, 2023 12:48AM ET
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Investing.com-- The Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates steady as expected on Tuesday, and said that it will continue to consider more monetary tightening amid sticky inflation and labor market activity. 

The RBA kept its cash target rate at 4.10% as expected, offering up no changes to its wait-and-see stance in its final meeting with Governor Philip Lowe at the helm. Lowe’s term is set to end on September 18, after which Deputy Governor Michele Bullock will lead the bank. 

Lowe oversaw the bank’s response to the COIVD-19 pandemic, having cut rates to near record lows through 2020 and 2021, before launching an aggressive rate hike cycle to curb rising inflation in the aftermath of the pandemic. Under Lowe, the RBA raised rates by a total of 400 basis points in the past year- a move that attracted some public and political ire, especially as economic growth began slowing and mortgage costs shot up.

The RBA has now kept rates steady for a fourth straight month, citing continued progress towards bring down inflation this year. The bank also said that labor market activity had cooled somewhat in recent months, but, like inflation, still remained too high.

Governor Lowe said in a statement that curbing inflation remained the bank’s main priority, and that further tightening of monetary policy may still be required. Lowe also flagged a largely data-driven approach to future hikes, citing growing uncertainty over the Australian and global economic outlook. 

Still, Lowe acknowledged that inflation was easing in line with the bank’s targets, and remained on track to reach the 2% target range by mid-2025. He also reiterated the importance of curbing inflation now, before it becomes entrenched in people’s expectations. 

Beyond Lowe’s departure, the RBA is also set more changes in the coming months. The bank is set to discard its monthly meeting schedule in favor of eight meetings in a year, and is also set to make new additions to the rate-setting board- changes which will be overseen by Bullock. 

RBA keeps rates steady, offers no surprises in Lowe’s final meeting
 

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