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RBA likely to hold rates steady tomorrow

FXStreet (Mumbai) - Australia’s econ calendar for the first week of December looks packed. The Reserve Bank of Australia's last interest rate decision for 2015 is due tomorrow and The Q3 GDP data is due on Wednesday. The rate decision as well as the GDP data will have significant impact on the market sentiment.

Markets will closely watch out on RBA governor Glenn Steven’s statement to gain an insight into what the central bank is thinking with respect to raising inflation, generating jobs and regulation of the aussie.

There is room for the RBA to slash rates further

Capital expenditure fell three times more than expected in the three months to September. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported overall investment fell by 9.2 per cent to a dollar value of A$ 31.4 billion, marking the biggest quarterly drop in capex data since 1987. The disappointing capital expenditure data raises speculation that September quarter GDP due on Wednesday will be revised down. Economists expect quarterly growth of about 0.7 per cent, leaving year-on-year expansion at 2.3 per cent.

Also, the RBA cut near term inflation forecasts by 0.5 per cent and estimated underlying inflation around 2 pct for most of 2016. Underlying inflation declined to a bit above ¼ per cent in the September quarter, and to between 2 and 2¼ per cent in year-ended terms. The effects of a decline in the exchange rate were taking a little longer to be impactful.

The two factors combined raised expectation of a rate cut in December. However, if other data and the statement of the governor are closely studied, it will not be difficult to gauge that the central bank will not opt to slash rates further. It is likely to hold rates steady at 2 per cent.

Governor Stevens does not seem inclined towards a rate cut

RBA governor Stevens said he would be “content” to lower rates further only if it really helped. He questioned whether cutting rates is the best solution that the economy can come up with at any particular time. He has expressed his desire to consider an alternative method to boost growth. He has warned that cutting rates now would not yield the kind of benefits that it used to provide to stimulate the economy when rates were cut from very high levels in the 1990s.

Governor Stevens is confident that growth will pick up as the impact of the decline in mining investment begins to ebb, and the effects of assumed low levels of interest rates and the exchange rate continue to increase. However, it must be noted here that economic rebalancing has been sluggish with the economy currently undergoing a transition from resources-led to services-led growth.

Jobs data points towards tightening of labor market

As weak wages and improving sentiment continues to encourage businesses to hire, Australia looks poised to witness best jobs growth this year since 2010. Government data showed employers added 231,700 jobs in the first 10 months of the year. The job data released earlier this month is likely to take the pressure to ease off the central bank. October's extraordinary jobs growth caused the unemployment rate to fall to 5.9 per cent. Also, a surge in the housing construction and tourism industries are soaking up former mine workers, resulting in a healthy employment data. Consumer sentiment also rose 3.9 per cent in October raising expectations of an eventual price rise which will boost inflation in the process.

The central bank is likely to continue with its accommodative policy for some time. A further easing at this juncture will likely increase selling of the Australian dollar. A rate cut tomorrow is however does not seem to be on the cards.

Low inflation and a cooling residential housing market leaves scope for the RBA to further ease monetary policy if necessary. It however may not choose to adopt an easing stance immediately.

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