Australia banks pull forward hike calls after inflation surprise

1 min read
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the National Australia Bank is displayed in central Sydney

SINGAPORE -Two of Australia’s big four banks expect the benchmark cash rate will rise next week and a third sees increased risk of a hike after a surprisingly strong inflation reading on Wednesday.

National Australia Bank and ANZ Bank pulled forward their lift-off forecasts from June to May and expect the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will raise its benchmark cash rate 15 basis points on Tuesday.

“Inflation pressures have momentum and have broadened. A cash rate target of 0.1% is inappropriate against this backdrop,” ANZ analysts said in a note. “We don’t think the RBA needs to wait for more data on wages.”

Data published on Wednesday showed inflation hit a two-decade high last quarter with annual core inflation at 3.7% and above the RBA’s target band of 2-3%.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia said a cash rate hike was “a clear risk” but stopped short of shifting its forecast for a June hike.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans repeated last week’s forecast for a 40 bp hike in June during a podcast recorded after the release of inflation data.

Swap-markets, which have consistently been more aggressive than analysts and the RBA, showed bets on a 15 bp hike firmed from about even to pricing about a 90% chance the benchmark cash rate is lifted from a record-low 0.1% to 0.35%.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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