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Inflation Data Spurs Talks on Future Interest Rates

Inflation Data Spurs Talks on Future Interest Rates

As Australians wrestle with persistent cost-of-living challenges and elevated interest rates, there may be some optimism on the horizon with expected reductions in inflation rates.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is set to unveil the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April on Wednesday. This monthly indicator offers an early glimpse into inflation trends, even though it does not encompass all price dynamics.

CommSec economists highlighted the significance of this measure, noting that despite its limited representation of the services sector, it remains one of the most prompt indicators for inflationary pressures.

Financial markets might experience reduced trading volumes ahead of public holidays in the US and UK on Monday.

The latest CPI data is expected to be a vital discussion point when the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Assistant Governor for Economics, Sarah Hunter, addresses a conference in Sydney on Thursday. The RBA board is slated to discuss interest rates again in mid-June, amid ongoing concerns over inflation levels that surpass the 2-3% target band.

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers anticipates that, owing to measures in the 2024/25 budget, inflation will retreat back to the acceptable range by year's end. These measures include a notable $300 energy bill rebate for households starting July 1.

Despite these initiatives, the RBA has pointed out that while inflation decelerated in the March quarter, the pace remains slower than desired. Hence, the bank is poised to adopt further interest rate hikes if circumstances oblige. The current cash rate stands at 4.35%, a stark rise from 0.35% as of May 2022, initiated after inflation peaked at 7.8% in December 2022.

Other crucial economic statistics set to be released this week include retail trade figures and building approvals for April. Additionally, data on March quarter construction work and private capital expenditure, both of which feed into the next quarterly economic growth report, are due.

Taking a cue from a positive consumer sentiment report in the US, the Australian share market is primed for a stronger opening on Monday. The University of Michigan's latest findings suggest improved public expectations around inflation decreases, catalyzing a resurgent Wall Street in Friday trading.

The US's Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up 4.33 points to 39,069.59, with the S&P500 adding 36.88 points to 5,304.72 and the Nasdaq Composite climbing 184.76 points to 16,920.79. Meanwhile, the ASX SPI200 index futures contract saw a 47-point rise to 7798, laying the groundwork for a robust market performance on Monday.

Nevertheless, light trading is anticipated ahead of public holidays in major markets. Australia's S&P/ASX200 index closed down on Friday, falling 84.2 points to 7,727.6, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 83.9 points to 7,999.2.

Sources for this article include reporting by Tess Ikonomou and Kaaren Morrissey for AAP.

Published:Monday, 27th May 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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