Inflation surges in Australia: Rate hike on the horizon?

By Maria Irene

Australia’s latest inflation numbers have knocked everyone’s socks off, defying the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) initial forecasts and leading to widespread speculation on a potential interest rate hike come November. In the September quarter alone, inflation surged between 1.2% to 1.3%, significantly outpacing the RBA’s 0.9 basis points expectation. Core inflation for the last twelve months clocked in at a staggering 5.2%, against an RBA target of 2.5%. The trimmed mean, often cited as a more reliable indicator of inflation trends, was also revised up from 0.9% to 1.0% for the last quarter. When annualised for the last six months, core inflation hits 4.3%, compared to an RBA forecast of around 3.6%.

So, what’s driving this price inflation? Fuel costs led the charge, with a 7.2% hike. Rents followed suit, increasing by 2.2%, while new dwelling purchases and electricity costs rose by 1.3% and 4.2%, respectively. These numbers also account for the impact of new subsidies introduced during the quarter. The 1.3% spike in the cost of new dwellings marks the largest increase since Q4 of the previous year, sparking debates on whether we’re seeing a floor in this sector’s pricing.

One interesting tidbit from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is that the growth in rental prices could have been even higher if not for an uptick in Rent Assistance. In other words, the Aussie government’s financial aid might be acting as a dam holding back a potential flood of further inflation.

Analyst and journalist Tarric Brooker chimed in, saying he took flak earlier this year for claiming that inflation would persist despite a drop in real retail sales and spending among demographics most affected by higher rates and rising inflation. “Well here we are, we followed the same path as elsewhere,” Brooker stated, implying a certain vindication.

Warren Hogan, an Australian macroeconomist, has been vocal about the domestic nature of this inflation. “Make no mistake, this is domestic inflation. Not global. Not supply chain. Not oil prices. Those factors are secondary to the domestic inflation pulse which seems to be running around 4.5%,” Hogan said. He also indicated that we should “pencil in a 25bp for November,” while leaving the door open for a December hike depending on other influencing factors.

For those keeping an eye on retail, Woolworths revealed that their average prices in Q1 increased by 2.0% compared to last year. However, this is mainly attributed to deflation in Fruit & Vegetables and Meat sectors.

What does this mean for the average Aussie and for policymakers at the Reserve Bank’s Melbourne Cup Day meeting? With these hotter-than-expected inflation numbers, the odds are stacking up in favour of an interest rate rise. One thing is crystal clear: It’s worth keeping a close eye on rents and new home costs. If these two sectors haven’t yet reached their peak and continue to climb, we may be in for even higher inflation than anticipated.

So, hold onto your wallets, Australia. Inflation is not just a buzzword; it’s becoming a tangible influence on day-to-day living. The temperature is rising, and it’s not just because summer is around the corner.

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Maria Irene
As a dedicated journalist at The Indian Sun, I explore an array of subjects from education and real estate to macroeconomics and finance. My work deep dives into the Australia-India relationship, identifying potential collaboration opportunities. Besides journalism, I create digestible content for a financial platform, making complex economic theories comprehensible. I believe journalism should not only report events but create an impact by highlighting crucial issues and fostering discussions. Committed to enhancing public dialogue on global matters, I ensure my readers stay not just informed, but actively engaged, through diverse platforms, ready to participate in these critical conversations.