RBA left the cash rate unchanged at 1.5% in June. While the decision had been widely anticipated, Aussie slumped after the announcement as the central bank failed to deliver a more hawkish tone as its US and European counterparts did. Policymakers affirmed that Australian economy would continue to grow gradually. Yet, they pointed to the strength in Australian dollar and subdue inflation as key reasons for standing on the sideline. Meanwhile, RBA remained concerned over the overheating housing market.
The price actions in US dollar and Treasuries suggested that the market views the July FOMC minutes as a dovish one. The minutes revealed that policymakers were concerned that US inflation might stay below +2% longer than previously anticipated. On the other hand, it appears that an announcement on balance sheet policy is imminent. The market pricing of a rate hike in December ranges from 35-45%. It only expects less than two times of rate hike through end-2018, compared with four projected in the Fed’s dot plot. US dollar initially climbed higher upon release of the statement. Gains were, however, erased shortly with the DXY index ending the day -0.33% lower. Treasury prices strengthened, sending 2-year yields -3 points lower to 1.33% and 10-year yields -5 points to 2.23%.
The RBA minutes for the December meeting revealed that policymakers were more upbeat on the global and domestic economic outlook. While maintaining a natural monetary policy stance, the minutes contained some hawkish ingredients, suggesting that recent data on employment and inflation have made the members more confident. The key concerns remained subdued wage growth and household consumption.
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.
RBA left the cash rate unchanged at 1.5% in November, following the last reduction in August 2016. The accompanying statement contained little surprise. While staying confident over the employment situation, policymakers remained weary off the persistently soft inflation and wage growth. The RBA stance is largely unchanged from the previous meeting. We retain the view that the policy rate would stay unchanged for the entire 2018.
BOE left the Bank rate unchanged at 0.25% and the QE program at 435B pound. While this had been widely anticipated, BOE's downgrade of GDP growth outlook was disappointing. Policymakers also raised its inflation forecast for this year, warning that rising inflation begins to hurt consumers, but lowered the forecasts for 2018 and 2019. Expectations of a "smooth" Brexit led members to believe that interest rate may need to go up around the time the UK leaves the EU in 2019.
As widely anticipated, RBA left its cash rate, for an 8th meeting, at 1.5% in April. While headline CPI has more or less reached the central bank's target level, the core reading has remained subdued. Policymakers have decided to take more time to gauge the inflation outlook before action. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has remained elevated while excess capacity in the job market has rendered wage growth weak. The RBA reiterated its rhetoric on the housing market, suggesting conditions 'continue to vary considerably around the country'. Policymakers would be cautious over adopting another rate cut as previous reductions have caused a surge in housing produces and rebound in investment related credit growth. A rate hike is equally unlikely as Australian dollar has remained at historically high levels.
As widely anticipated, 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. The central bank has turned more upbeat on the economic outlook, especially on Capex and consumption. Goushi Kataoka was again the lone dissent as he supported bond purchases so as to facilitate the decline of 10-year (or over) bond yields. Governor Kuroda's speech at the press conference has not tilted towards less easing/ policy normalization in the near-term
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 greenback got dumped, as a result of a series events happened over the past day. Defeat of GOP Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race and the miss of the core CPI were followed by a final version of tax bill. The day culminated in the conclusion of the FOMC announcement, which saw a 25 bps rate hike as expected, but with two dissents. US dollar fell against major currencies with the DXY index losing -0.71% for the day. Treasuries firmed, sending yields higher with the 2-year and 10-year yields dropping -4 points and -5 points respectively.
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.
RBA minutes for the July meeting suggested that policymakers acknowledged the economic growth and the improvement in the labor market recently. The members also discussed the appropriate neutral rate which they believed should be at +3.5%, well above the current cash rate of 1.5%. This heightened market expectations of a potential rate hike in the near-term. As such, Aussie jumped to a 2-year high after the release of the minutes.
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.
RBA left the cash rate unchanged at 1.5% in April, continuing to struggle between soaring property prices and subdued inflation. Policymakers appeared more optimistic over the global economic outlook than the domestic one. The central bank remained concerned over the rising property prices and warned of the situation that household borrowing growth was outpacing growth in income. We expect RBA to leave its monetary stance unchanged throughout the year.
The FOMC minutes for the December meeting revealed that policymakers were optimistic about the path of economic expansion. This was partly a result of the government's fiscal stimulus. On the tax cut, some members judged that it would help boost both capital and household spending, although the magnitude remains uncertain. The December rate hike of +25 bps was data-dependent but a key factor was the strong employment market. While wage growth was still "modest", a few members forecast it to accelerate as the job market tightened further. Many members expected that the tightening labor market would lead to higher inflation in the medium- term, but some continued to judge that core inflation would persistently stay below the 2% target. The rate hike in December was not unanimous as Chicago Fed President Charles Evans dissented.
Despite no change in the policy rate and the QE program, the euro gained after the ECB announcement, as President Mario Draghi added some upbeat flavors at the press conference and as the staff upgraded the inflation forecasts. The members continued to see risks to growth skewed to the downside, but agreed that they are "less pronounced" now. While the forward guidance in the statement maintained that "interest rates will stay low, or lower for an extended period of time", the members had discussions of its removal at the meeting. The single currency rose from a 3-day low of 1.0523 to as high as 1.0615 against US dollar. The pair gained +0.34% for the day. Global yields were also driven higher on possibility of a chance in ECB's policy measures. The 10-year German bund yield added +5.6 bps to 0.421% at close, whilst the 10-year US Treasury yield climbed further higher to about 2.6%.
FOMC raised the fed funds target range, by +25 bps, to 0.75%-1.00% with 9-1 vote. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari dissented as he favored leaving the monetary policy unchanged. The Summary of Projections (SEP) shows virtually the same macroeconomic outlook. Moreover, the median dot plot maintained three rate hikes this year and in 2018. Chair Janet Yellen noted that that the projections have not included potential fiscal stimulus promised by President Donald Trump. She also noted that the Committee discussed on balance sheet policy but no conclusion was reached. The market was disappointed, reflected in the decline in US dollar and Treasury yields, as they had anticipated more hawkish statement and some upward adjustments in economic forecasts.
As widely anticipated, RBA left its cash rate unchanged at1.5% in February, its first meeting in 2017. Policymakers acknowledged improvement in the global economic outlook. They also retained the view that the domestic economy would growth above-trend. The overall monetary stance is neutral, signaling the central bank is in no hurry to adjust the policy. The market is closely awaiting Governor Philip Lowe's speech on Thursday and RBA's Statement on Monetary Policy (SoMP) on Friday. The SoMP would reveal policymakers' updated economic forecasts. We expect downgrades of both growth and inflation outlooks.
RBA in its minutes for the December meeting cautioned the high levels of household debt due to low interest rates. It also warned of the 'considerable uncertainty' in the labor market. The central bank maintained a neutral bias at the meeting while leaving its cash rate unchanged at historic low of 1.5%. Note the meeting was held a day before the release of 3Q15 GDP growth which shrank -0.5%.
The July FOMC meeting came in as widely anticipated. The Fed left its monetary policy unchanged, maintaining the federal funds rate target at 1-1.25%. The Fed made two tweak in the statement, though. First, it noted that balance sheet reduction would begin 'relatively soon', signaling that the official announcement would come in September. Second, policymakers revised lower the outlook on core inflation. US dollar plunged, with the weighted index falling to a 13-month low as the market interpreted the inflation assessment as dovish.