RBA expected to stay put on cash rate

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The Reserve Bank of Australia has been widely predicted to leave the official cash rate on hold at today’s board meeting.

The cash rate has sat at 2% since May 2015 and all 31 financial commentators and experts in the latest edition of Finder’s monthly RBA Survey have predicted it will remain unchanged after today’s meeting.

Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital said the central bank is unlikely to make a rate move before it gets a clearer picture of the overall economy.

“Recent Reserve Bank commentary suggests a degree of comfort with the current level for the cash rate and while it retains an easing bias not enough has changed to suggest it is about to act on it,” Dr Oliver said.

“It's basically in wait and see mode regarding the jobs market and the potential impact of global financial turmoil,” he said.

Angus Raine, head of real estate franchise Raine & Horne, agreed with Oliver’s outlook and said the RBA will likely take into account current trends in Australia’s property market.

“The Reserve Bank will stick with its 'wait and see' approach from February. It will seek to weigh inflation data, financial and commodity market turmoil, and business confidence, against local real estate data which appears to be on the improve compared to the end of 2015,” Raine said.

“There are plenty of buyers and investors in the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane markets, who missed out in 2015 and have decided to return to the market for a second shot at buying a property,” he said.

Less than a quarter of those surveyed believe the cash rate will rise in 2016, but there have been some words of caution for borrowers, with 39% of the respondents predicting lenders will levy their own out-of-cycle rate rises in 2016.

Three non-major lenders, Yellow Brick Road, Bankwest and Australian Unity, announced their own out-of-cycle rate hikes in February and Bessie Hassan, consumer advocate at Finder, said it would pay for borrowers to look out for signs that could point to a possible rate rise.

“Some lenders have a tendency to keep their rate hikes quiet. With the uncertainty in the market, it’s really important that homeowners don’t become complacent about their mortgages and therefore miss any important news that may impact their finances,” she says.

“You can try to prepare yourself by investigating the best deals on offer and seeing how your lender fares. If you’re feeling uneasy, chat with your lender about your rate and ask if that’s really the best deal they can do for you – use your loyalty and loan size for bargaining power,” Hassan said.

“Australians should be cautious – experts are divided about what lenders will do next. While we don’t expect a dramatic upswing in rates, they can turn very quickly and catch borrowers by surprise,” she said.
 

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