Australia inflation jumps, dashes rate cut hopes
AFPSYDNEY--Australian inflation rose by a stronger-than-expected 1.2 percent in the July-September period compared to the previous quarter, official data showed Wednesday, reducing expectations of further monetary easing this year.
October 24, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
The Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed the consumer price index (CPI) was up 2.2 percent through the year to September — above economists' expectations of a 1.8 percent annual rise.
The consensus was for a 0.8 percent quarterly rise.
The bureau said the most significant price jumps were in car fuel, which leapt 7.6 percent, international holiday travel, which rose 6.1 percent, and electricity, up 4.4 percent.
The biggest fall was in the price of vegetables, which fell 4.5 percent.
The inflation data is closely watched by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) which has brought the official interest rate to the historic low of 2.5 percent in a bid to jumpstart other sections of the economy as the Asia-driven mining boom slows.
“The headline CPI was stronger than expected and that was largely driven by fuel prices that picked up because of the relative fall in the currency in the third quarter,” Commonwealth Bank currency strategist Peter Dragicevich said.
“The higher CPI did drive up the Aussie dollar. I think that was because people are re-evaluating their expectations for the RBA, they are expecting that we may be at the low point of the interest rate cycle.”
The Australian dollar has fallen against the greenback in recent months, but the inflation data saw the currency rise to 97.56 U.S. cents from 97.14 U.S. cents immediately before its release.
The central bank's target inflation range is 2.0 percent to 3.0 percent and some analysts said the fresh data would not alter the RBA's easing bias.
“There's been a bit of a sign of a pick-up in inflationary pressures over the past quarter or two, but it's nothing really to threaten the RBA's easing bias,” said RBC fixed income and currency strategist Michael Turner.
“There's not too much in these numbers that will shift our view on what the RBA will do.”
The central bank next meets on Nov. 5.