The Australian dollar has edged higher and is trading at the 0.6700 level in Europe. The RBA meets next week and the markets have priced in a pause. In the US, unemployment claims and GDP were within expectations.
RBA expected to pause rate hikes
The RBA holds its policy meeting on April 4th and the markets have fully priced in a pause after raising rates at 10 consecutive meetings. Governor Lowe mentioned that a pause at the April meeting was a possibility and said that employment, inflation and consumer spending data would play a key factor in the RBA’s decision.
Consumer spending and inflation both eased in February, which would support the case for a pause. As well, the fallout from the banking crisis has central banks thinking twice before raising rates. The markets have priced in a pause at 87%, but the National Australia Bank (NAB) is projecting a hike of 25-basis points. The NAB’s reasoning is that the labour market remains tight and the risks on wage growth are on the upside.
Whatever decision the RBA makes next week, it appears likely that the current rate-tightening cycle, which has brought the cash rate to 3.60%, is close to ending. If inflation continues to fall, it is entirely possible that the central bank will cut rates late in the year.
In the US, key releases were within expectations and had little effect on the US dollar. Unemployment claims rose to 198,000, versus 191,000 prior and 196,000 anticipated. Over the past 11 weeks, unemployment has remained below the 200,000 threshold, as the labour market remains tight. US third-estimate GDP for Q4 was revised downwards from 2.7% to 2.6%. This marks a deceleration from the Q3 reading of 3.2%, as exports and consumer spending were lower.
- There is pressure on resistance at 0.6728. Above, there is resistance at 0.6810
- AUD/USD tested support at 0.6676 earlier in the day. The next support level is 0.6565