Bank funding costs only up a 'little': RBA
The Reserve Bank doubts retail banks will need to consider a round of independent interest rate increases anytime soon, despite a rise in their funding costs.
In the minutes of its April 3 board meeting, released on Tuesday, the RBA notes the cost of funding for major banks had "increased a little" over the preceding month, as a flow-on effect of the US Federal Reserve raising its key interest rate again.
But the Australian central bank also noted there had been little change in local retail deposit rates, "limiting the overall effect on bank funding costs".
Even so, it is questionable whether the major banks would be up to braving the wrath of the public over an independent rate rise while being investigated by a royal commission over their behaviour.
However, the minutes do show board members agree the next move in the official cash rate "would be up, rather than down", a point governor Philip Lowe has been making in speeches for some time.
"As progress in lowering unemployment and having inflation return to the midpoint of the target was expected to be only gradual, members also agreed that there was not a strong case for a near-term adjustment in monetary policy," the minutes say.
The cash rate has been locked at a record-low 1.5 per cent since August 2016.
At this stage, financial markets are not predicting a rise to 1.75 per cent until mid-2019.
The minutes concede the economy had not grown solidly over 2017 because exports had subtracted from growth.
"However, given the momentum in domestic demand and expectations that the decline in export volumes would be temporary, members noted that the economy appeared likely to record faster growth over 2018 than the previous year."
There was also positive news out of Australia's number one trading partner, China, where the economy grew at a stronger than expected annual pace of 6.8 per cent as of the March quarter.
China's National Bureau of Statistics said the "national economy achieved a good start in the first quarter".
Commonwealth Securities senior economist Ryan Felsman said Chinese household consumption is increasingly taking over as the key contributor to economic output rather than investment and export-led growth.
"Australia is benefiting from China's ever-growing and wealthier middle class," he said.
Other figures showed Australian consumer confidence rose in the past week, ending a string of declines.
The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose 0.8 per cent.
"It is encouraging to see confidence rise for the first time this month, driven by a solid increase in sentiment towards financial conditions," ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank said.
He said views on economic conditions had deteriorated sharply through most of February and March, which likely reflected concerns about international trade policy and the associated impact on financial markets.
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