Australia’s Westpac Consumer Sentiment Index for August indicated a slight decline, registering at 81, a drop of -0.4% mom from July’s reading of 81.3. Westpac’s analysis suggests that this decrease cements the prevailing pessimistic mood among consumers. Interestingly, RBA’s decision to pause rate hikes did not notably influence this sentiment. The prevailing concerns about inflation continue to overshadow, although confidence in the job market did see a marginal improvement.
Regarding RBA’s upcoming meeting on September 5, Westpac anticipates the central bank will maintain its current stance, leaving rates untouched at 4.1%. This cash rate is expected to be the zenith of this financial cycle. It is now up to incoming data and unfolding economic scenarios to present a compelling argument for further monetary tightening.
Westpac emphasized that for RBA to be prompted into action, any economic developments would need to be not just surprising, but also substantial, essentially posing a challenge to the bank’s medium-term outlook.