Ahead of the Reserve Bank's board meeting on Tuesday, economists have offered their views, often understandably equivocal, on the outlook for interest rates:
Andrew Ticehurst, interest rate strategist at Nomura: "On balance, we expect a 25 basis reduction in the cash rate, although we acknowledge that this will be a line-ball decision ..."
Besa Deda, chief economist at St George Bank: "... a rate cut, as soon as next week, cannot be fully ruled out. We are sitting tight with our view that rates will remain on hold over 2015 but admit our seat is becoming less comfortable."
Spiros Papadopoulos, senior economist at NAB: "NAB expects the RBA will keep the cash rate unchanged (the fall in petrol prices affords the RBA room to wait), but there is an expectation that they may tweak the language in the press release to open up the prospect of a cut in March ..."
Warren Hogan, chief economist at ANZ: "We expect the RBA board to leave the cash rate at 2.5 per cent next week but change the guidance by dropping 'period of stability' and inserting either 'appropriate for the time being' or 'scope for easing'."
Diana Mousina, economist at Commonwealth Bank: "We think the RBA is likely to sit on the sidelines next week, but it is a close call. We still see a few barriers to an RBA rate cut."
Scott Haslem, economist at UBS: The outlook for weaker inflation and economic growth "affords the RBA room to cut the cash rate 50 basis points to 2.0 per cent in (the first half of 2015)". While not ruling out a February cut, March and May, following key economic data, are more likely.
Paul Bloxham, chief economist Australia/NZ at HSBC: "... the RBA also needs to weigh the benefits of lower rates against the potential costs of over-inflating the housing market. We think this tradeoff will see the RBA sit still with its 2.5 per cent cash rate, rather than cut, but it is close."
Su-Lin Ong and Michael Turner, economists at RBC Capital Markets: A bias of foreign central banks toward lower interest rates, weakening commodity prices and well-behaved inflation "have been enough for us to put cuts into our RBA profile for 2015 in March and May, taking cash to 2.0 per cent by year-end".
Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital: "... the RBA should cut interest rates by 0.25 per cent on Tuesday ... However, it's a close call as to whether the Reserve will actually cut on Tuesday or wait till March as it may prefer to prepare the way for a cut ..."
Stephen Walters, economist at JP Morgan: "... we now expect the RBA to trim the cash rate twice before mid-year, most likely in May and June ... For now, as a first step, we expect the RBA to alter its guidance Tuesday."
Saul Eslake and Alex Joiner, economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch: "In our judgement the economic outlook has not deteriorated enough to warrant the further easing of policy ... However, the risk here is that the RBA judges differently ..."
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