As widely anticipated, RBA left the cash rate unchanged at 1.5% in November. As we await Friday' Statement of Monetary Policy, policymakers revealed at today' statement that the macroeconomic guidance has stayed largely unchanged. In short, policymakers remained upbeat about the growth outlook, although they expressed concerns over household spending and soft inflation. Despite recent weakness in the Australian dollar, RBA reiterated the warning that higher exchange rate would lead to slower growth and inflation. Given the overall unchanged tone of the central bank, we retain the view that RBA would keep the policy rate unchanged at least until 1H18.
BOE voted 7-2 to raise the Bank rate by +25 bps to 0.5%, the first time in over a decade, in November. Two deputy governors, Sir Jon Cunliffe and Sir Dave Ramsden, voted to leave borrowing costs unchanged. BOE voted unanimously to leave the asset purchase program unchanged at 435B pound. Governor Carney declined to comment when the unwinding would begin. Traders have begun to dump British pound ahead of the announcement on profit-taking. The selloff accelerates upon release of the meeting statement and the quarterly inflation report. The rate hike this month is to remediate excessive inflation which has sustainably overshot the +2% target for months.
As widely anticipated, the November FOMC meeting contained few changes from the previous one. The members left the target range of the Fed funds rate unchanged at 1-1.25%. One surprise came from the upgrade of the growth assessment to 'solid' for the first time since 2015, despite disruptions by hurricanes. Inflation stayed below the +2% target and the members acknowledged that core inflation 'remained soft'. However, the encouraging growth outlook and further decline in the unemployment rate suggest that a December rate hike remains on track.
BOJ again voted 8-1 to leave the monetary policies unchanged in October. The targets for short- and long-term interest rates stay at -0.1% and around 0%, respectively while the guideline for JGB purchases remains at an annual pace of about 80 trillion yen. Again, BOJ revised lower its inflation forecasts for FY 2017 and FY 2018 but maintained that for FY 2019. The central bank upgraded the GDP growth outlook for FY 2017 while leaving others unadjusted. The new member was the lone dissent as he voted against the yield curve control measure for two meetings in a row. He judged that 'monetary easing effects gained from the current yield curve were not enough for 2% inflation to be achieved around fiscal 2019'. At the press conference, Governor Kuroda defended the yield curve control policy and the +2% target. As he suggested, the 'main objective is to achieve 2% inflation and stably maintain price growth at that level. There's no change to our view that monetary policy must be guided to achieve this objective' and there is no need to change the yield targets'.
ECB announced the plan to reduce asset purchase next year. In line with the majority of market participants had anticipated, the central bank would trim the size of buying by half, to 3B euro per month, in the first nine months of 2018, "or beyond, if necessary". It added that stimulus measures would be implemented "in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim". The single currency dropped after the announcement, on profit-taking. The policy rates stayed unchanged, with the main refinancing rate, the marginal lending rate and the deposit rate at 0%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively.
Showing genuine concerns over the downside risks to inflation, BOC indicated it would be more 'cautious' over future rate hike decisions. In the concluding statement, policymakers stressed that 'while less monetary policy stimulus will likely be required over time, Governing Council will be cautious in making future adjustments to the policy rate'. The tone in this October appears more dovish than previous ones, likely resulting from recent developments of disappointing progress in NAFTA negotiations, household debt levels and appreciation of Canadian dollar. USDCAD jumped about +1% after the announcement.
Lacking other exciting news, the market was thrilled by the media report that US President Donald Trump was impressed by Stanford University Economic John Taylor at the Fed Chair candidate interview. Bets for Taylor to be the next Fed chair increased, making him one of the top three candidates alongside Jerome Powell and Kevin Warsh. Market reaction to the rise of Taylor was USD strength and an upward shift in the UST yield curve, hinging on hopes that this creator of the Taylor rule would accelerate the pace of rate hike if he has become the Fed' chief. We believe such expectation is a bit too far-fetched.
The RBA minutes for the October meeting reaffirmed the market that the central bank is in no hurry to increase interest rates. Policymakers stressed that rate hikes, or other kinds of monetary policy normalization, in other major economies do not necessarily imply that the RBA would follow suit anytime soon. The RBA remained upbeat in the domestic economic outlook, staying confident in the employment market conditions. Yet, it was still weary of subdued inflation. As usual, the central bank continued to warn of the strength in Australian dollar.
The FOMC minutes for the September meeting anchored the Fed's stance to hike policy rate for one more time this year. While the views on economic growth developments remained broadly unchanged from previous meetings, the members appeared more concerned over the inflation outlook. The minutes included detailed discussions on the impacts hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Yet, they were expected to have limited impacts on US growth and inflation. The market has priced in almost 90% chance of a rate hike in December. The bet shows little change after the release of the minutes.
RBA left the cash rate unchanged at 1.5% in September. The accompanying statement contained few changes from the previous one. This perhaps explains the modest drop in Aussie after the release, as the market had expected a more hawkish message. The central bank is upbeat over the economic developments, hinging on the improving non-mining investment. Policymakers also acknowledged the strength in the job market, pointing to the rise in participation rate as well as a number of forward-looking indicators. Comments on the exchange rate were limited, with the central bank reiterating the impact of a strong Aussie on inflation, GDP growth and employment. We expect the central bank to keep the policy rate unchanged until 2H18.
As widely anticipated, RBNZ left the OCR unchanged at 1.75% in September Policymakers downgraded the domestic growth outlook and suggested that the accommodative monetary policy would stay for a “considerable period'. Thanks to the recent decline in New Zealand, driven by heightened political uncertainty, RBNZ tweaked its warning over currency strength. It noted that a lower exchange rate would "would help" raise tradables inflation. We expect RBNZ to keep the policy rate unchanged for the rest of the year, and likely through 2018.
The Fed finally made formal announcement that it would begin normalizing the balance sheet in October. As indicated in June, the process does not involve active selling of securities, but a passive run-off of its holdings. The policy rate also stayed unchanged at 1-1.25%. The overall tone of the statement and the press conference came in more hawkish than expected. Depsite downward revision in the core CPI for this year, the staff upgraded the economic growth outlook and downgraded the unemployment rate forecast. The median dot plot continued to project one more rate hike this year, followed by three more increases in 2018. As CME's 30-day Fed funds futures suggested, bets for a December hike markedly jumped to 73.4% from 57.7% in the prior day.
The RBA minutes for the September meeting contained little news. Four main areas of discussions include employment situation, Australian dollar, iron ore prices and the balance of household debt and low inflation. Policymakers acknowledged the improvement in the employment market, noting higher participation rate and steady unemployment rate. RBA appeared less worrisome about Aussie’s strength. By attributing the appreciation of the Australian dollar to USD’s weakness, it appears less likely that RBA would take actions to curb its strength. RBA expected iron ore prices to fall amidst new supply. As the biggest exporter of iron ores, Australian dollar has been affected by the movement in iron ore prices.
BOE sent a hawkish message at the September meeting, noting that the majority of the members agreed that some withdrawal of stimulus should be appropriate in coming months. The key reason for the upcoming tightening is strong inflation which the central bank expects to rise above +3% in October. The market interpreted this as a signal that the historically low interest rate would be raised soon. Sterling rallied to a one-year high against the US dollar and a two-month high against the euro after the announcement. The market has now priced in over 54% chance of a rate hike in December. On the monetary policy this month, the BOE voted 7-2 to leave the Bank rate unchanged at 0.25% and unanimously to keep the asset purchase at 435B pound.
Swiss franc's depreciation against Euro over the past few months has offered some reliefs to policymakers. At the quarterly SNB meeting in September, the members acknowledged the franc is not as overvalued as before. Yet, weak economic and inflation have led the members to remain cautious and maintain the monetary policy unchanged. SNB this month decided to keep the sight deposit rate unchanged at -0.75%, while the target range for the three-month Libor stayed at - –1.25% and –0.25%. The central bank also reiterated the pledge that it would intervene in the foreign exchange market if needed. But, SNB's sight deposit and FX reserve data indicate that less intervention has been adopted recently.
We expect the BOE to vote 7-2 to leave the Bank rate unchanged at 0.25% and the asset purchase at 435B pound. Despite overshooting of inflation, most members would remain cautious and cite slow economic growth and Brexit uncertainty as reasons for keeping the monetary policy accommodative. However, the MPC is expected to adopt a more hawkish tone and strengthen the warning of a weak sterling. The new deputy governor Dave Ramsden would be voting for the first time. He is perceived as a dove amidst his warning of dire consequences after Brexit. He is expected to vote to maintain the status quo in the first 9-member MPC meeting since May.
As widely anticipated, ECB left the policy rates unchanged in September. It also kept the QE program at a pace of 60B euro per month until end 2017, or longer if needed. At the press conference, President Mario Draghi acknowledged the improvement in the economic outlook but was cautious over inflation, warning that headline CPI could fall to the negative territory towards the end of the year. At the Q&A session of the press conference, Draghi admitted that the members began "preliminary" discussion on the adjustment of the QE program but affirmed that the "big labour market slack" is justified for the record low interest rates. On the updated economic projections, the staff upgraded the GDP growth forecasts but downgraded inflation outlooks. EURUSD broke above 1.2, attempting to retest the 2.5 year high made on August 29 after a brief pullback.
In a surprising move, BOC increased the policy rate by +25 bps to 1% in September, following a rate hike in July. Policymakers cited the better-than-expected economic developments as a key reason for the removal of stimuli from the market. However, they remained cautious over a number of issues including excess capacity, subdued inflation, geopolitical risks and the strength in Canadian dollar.
As widely anticipated, the RBA left the cash rate unchanged at 1.5%, historic low since August 2016. Policymakers remained confident over the economic outlook, but stayed cautious over the strength in property prices. Again, they warned that recent appreciation in Australian dollar would weigh on the outlook for growth and employment, and prolong soft inflation. . It appeared that the central bank would keep its policy rate unchanged at the current level for some time.
Despite a retreat after breaching the 1.2 level against US dollar, the euro has still gained almost +2% since the last ECB meeting. Indeed, the single currency is the best performer so far this year, up13% against the greenback and +8% against the pound, whilst the trade-weighted index has appreciated over 7% since 2Q17. A non-eventful Jackson Hole failed to dampened euro's rally. Rather, it led EURUSD to surge to as high as 1.2069, a level not seen since early 2015.