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MNI STATE OF PLAY: RBA Leaves Option Of Further Bond Buys Open

MNI (Sydney)
SYDNEY (MNI)

Australia's central bank leaves open possibility of increased QE and longer guidance duration on rates until July meeting.

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The Reserve Bank of Australia upgraded its assessment of the economy Tuesday but took a pass on fresh policy decisions until the July meeting, leaving open the option of extending its period of forward guidance rates and an increased package of bond purchases.

Policymakers left official interest rates at the record low 0.10%, as expected, but said it would consider additional bond purchases and an extension of its yield target to later maturing bonds at its July meeting.

The current AUD200 billion quantitative easing program is due to be completed by September and a decision will be made ahead of that as to whether further purchases would be needed. The RBA will also decide whether to extend its yield target from bonds maturing in April 2024 to the November 2024 bond.

YIELD TARGET

The bank added it was not considering any change to the yield target of 0.10%, the same as official interest rates and as the RBA has previously indicated that it wants to keep the yield target and official rates aligned, this would suggest the bank is not currently pondering further rate cuts.

Earlier in the year the RBA was considering extending the yield target to the November 2024 bond as a signal to the market on interest rates, which it has said will not increase until 2024 "at the earliest."

Delaying a decision on the target and upgrading 2021 growth suggests the RBA is satisfied at the pace of the economic recovery, which could also receive a boost from the Federal Budget next week which is expected to include around AUD100 billion in job creation stimulus.

GROWTH BOOST

RBA Governor Philip Lowe said the central bank had revised its 2021 GDP forecasts, with growth of 4.75% expected over this year but maintaining the 3.5% forecast for 2022.

"A pick up in business investment is expected and household spending will be supported by the strengthening in balance sheets over the past year," Lowe said.

"The unemployment rate is expected to continue to decline, to be around 5% at the end of this year and around 4.5% at the end of 2022." The March unemployment level was at 5.6%, and while the bank has never specifically given a figure for full employment it has always hinted it is in the mid 4-5% range.

A fuller outline of the RBA's thinking on the economic outlook is expected Friday, when the quarterly Statement of Monetary Policy is published.