Economic Update – June 2022

June has arrived and so has winter, as the financial year draws to a close. Now that the federal election is out of the way, it’s time to focus on planning for the future with more certainty.

Cost of living pressures, inflation and interest rates were major concerns in the lead-up to the May federal election. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) lifted the cash rate for the first time in over 11 years from 0.1% to 0.35%, as inflation hit 5.1%. This followed the US Federal Reserve’s decision to lift rates by 50 basis points to 0.75-1.00%, the biggest rate hike in 22 years as inflation hit 8.5%. Global pressures are largely to blame, from war in Ukraine and rising oil prices to supply chain disruptions and food shortages. The price of Brent Crude surged a further 27% in May.

As a result, the RBA has cut its growth forecast for the year to June from 5% to 3.5% and raised its inflation forecast from 3.25% to 4.5%. On the ground, the economic news is mixed. New business investment fell 0.3% in the March quarter but still rose 4.5% on the year. The NAB business confidence index fell from +16.3 point to +9.9 points in April, still above its long-term average. Adding to inflationary pressures, labour and materials shortages and bad weather saw building costs rise 2.8% in the March quarter, while retail trade rose further in April to be up 9.6% over the year.

On the positive side, unemployment fell further from 4% to 3.9% in April, the lowest rate since 1974, while annual wages growth rose slightly in the March quarter from 2.3% to 2.4%, still well below inflation.

If you wish to speak to an adviser about any information in relation to our articles, please get in contact via email – moe@rgmgroup.com.au.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

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Economic Update – May 2022

The economic event that overshadowed all others in April was the release of the March quarter Consumer Price Index (CPI), which showed inflation up 2.1% in the quarter and 5.1% on an annual basis. This was the biggest lift in prices since 2001 and well above the Reserve Bank’s target of 2-3%.  

The biggest increases were for fuel, housing construction, and food as the war in Ukraine pushes up global oil prices and the cost of transporting food and other goods. Most economists now agree that the Reserve will lift official interest rates from their current historic low of 0.1%. The question now is by how much. Any rate rise will be passed through to variable mortgage rates, putting more pressure on household budgets where cost of living was a major theme during the election campaign. 

On a positive note, unemployment fell below 4% in March, its lowest since 1974 as the economy continues to recover from COVID-related disruptions. As a result, businesses are more confident, with the NAB business confidence index lifting to a five-month high of 15.8 points in March, well above its long-term average of 5.4 points. Consumers are less confident, with the Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment rating down 0.9% in April to a 19-month low of 95.8 points. 

The Aussie dollar fell from US75c to around US71c over the month, adding to cost pressures on imported goods. Oil prices eased slightly, with Brent crude down 6% in April but up 48% on the year. 

If you wish to speak to an adviser about any information in relation to our articles, please get in contact via email – moe@rgmgroup.com.au.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Economic Update – April 2022

As the Morrison Government clears the decks ahead of a May election, Australians will be weighing up the impact on their household budgets.  

The war in Ukraine added a major new source of uncertainty to the local and global economic outlook in March. Economic sanctions against Russia have cut its oil exports, sending crude oil prices surging 6% over the month to more than US$111 a barrel. This puts further pressure on inflation, already on the rise as global economies recover from the pandemic. In the US, inflation is at a 40-year high of 7.9%. The US Federal Reserve lifted official interest rates in March for the first time since 2018, by 0.25 basis points to a range of 0.25-0.50.  Is this a sign of things to come closer to home? 

In Australia, the lead-up to the Federal Budget added to the uncertainty. The Reserve Bank is taking a “patient” approach on interest rates for now, but with inflation at 3.5% and tipped to go higher it is expected to begin lifting rates later this year.  Australia’s economy grew by 3.4% in the December quarter, the strongest gain since 1976 as the nation emerged from lockdowns. Unemployment fell from 4.2% to 4.0% in February, but rising prices are putting pressure on household budgets. Petrol prices hit a high of $2.12 a litre in March, costing the average motorist an extra $66.20 to fill their tank since the start of the year. Consumer confidence is at an 18-month low, with the Westpac-Melbourne Institute index down 4.2% in March to 96.6 points. And a 20.6% lift in home prices in the year to February has pushed the average mortgage on established homes to a record $635,000. 

Rising commodity prices – iron ore and wheat were both up almost 5% in March – pushed the Aussie dollar to around US75c. 

If you wish to speak to an adviser about any information in relation to our articles, please get in contact via email – moe@rgmgroup.com.au.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.