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FIVE at FIVE AU: RBA keeps cash rate on hold … for now

Published 07/05/2024, 04:03 pm
© Reuters.  FIVE at FIVE AU: RBA keeps cash rate on hold … for now
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The ASX continued its upward momentum today, driven higher by Utilities and real estate investment trusts.

The S&P/ASX200 gained 101.90 points or 1.33% to 7,784.30, crossing above its 50-day moving average. Over the last five days, the index has gained 1.57% and is currently 1.60% off of its 52-week high.

Top-performing stocks in this index were Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN) and AGL Energy (ASX:AGL) (ASX:AGK), up 8.54% and 6.92% respectively.

AGL Energy (ASX:AGK) Limited shares gained after the company raised its earnings forecast for the second time in three months.

As for small caps, the S&P/ASX Small Ordinaries (XSO) gained 1.57% today to 3,058.80. Over the last five days, it is up 1.10%.

Cash rate on hold

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has kept interest rates on hold but has not ruled out further increases, as petrol prices and a tight jobs market continue to impact inflation.

The official cash rate remains at 4.35%, but the RBA has lifted its key forecasts for inflation, which is currently at 3.6%.

The RBA expects inflation to reach 4.1% in December and ease to 3.8% in June 2025, above its previous forecast of 3.1% mid next year.

“Higher petrol prices, the legislated end of energy rebates and stronger recent data will lift headline inflation in the near term,” the report said.

Rental inflation at 7.8% through the year to March is also biting. The RBA expects this to remain high until 2026.

“Tight rental market conditions across the capital cities will likely contribute to ongoing high advertised rent growth, which will in turn keep CPI rents inflation elevated,” the RBA report said.

Financial markets are now pricing in one more rate rise this year, however, many economists still see a cut in December or early 2025.

CreditorWatch chief economist Anneke Thompson said, “Goods inflation continues to fall at a comfortable pace and is now almost back into the target band, at 3.1%. Services inflation, unfortunately, is proving harder to nudge down and only decreased by 0.3% over the March quarter, to now sit at 4.3%.

"Despite this, the RBA is no doubt well aware that the cash rate has far less impact on services inflation than it does on goods inflation and thus a further increase would do little to help move services inflation into the band at a faster pace.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS’) latest retail sales data shows that businesses in the discretionary retail and food and beverage sectors will continue to bear the brunt of tight monetary policy, as consumers choose, or indeed are forced to, pull back spending in these areas.

“CreditorWatch’s March 2024 Business Risk Index (BRI) indicates that 8.6% and 8.1% of invoices issued in the Food and Beverage Services and Retail Trade sectors, respectively, are now more than 60 days overdue.

"At the other end of the scale, only 5.1% of invoices in the Education & Training and Health Care sectors are more than 60 days overdue. It is these areas, as well as insurance and residential rents, where inflation still remains high, and this is broadly because of the non-discretionary nature of these services.

“It is likely that the next few months’ employment figures will have a key influence on any future cash rate decision that the RBA makes.

"Proponents for further tightening of monetary policy point to sticky services inflation as a key reason to increase the cash rate further, while those that refute this argument highlight falling goods inflation and flatlining retail sales as evidence that monetary policy is tight enough.

“The various measures of the labour force data released by the ABS monthly will give the RBA a good yardstick as to which way this argument should fall over the next few months.

"Even moderate softening of the employment market will likely mean that we are at the peak of this tightening cycle, as smaller businesses and many household businesses will now be in precarious financial positions given the high cost of debt. The RBA is unlikely to risk further damage to sectors of the economy that are least able to cope with it.”

Webull 24-hour trading

Webull Securities (Australia) Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Webull Corporation, has announced the launch of 24-hour trading for US equities and ETFs, powered by Blue Ocean.

The initial launch will support 24-hour trading of more than 60 popular US stocks and ETFs, including popular stocks such as Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), Nvidia, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) as well as in-demand ETFs like SPY (NYSE:SPY) and QQQ.

Until now, due to time zone difficulties experienced by many investors in Australia, access to US markets has led to underinvestment by local investors. The advent of 24-hour trading expands the opportunity set for local investors in a high-growth market that has a significantly different sector makeup than the ASX200.

Webull’s 24-hour trading will be available from 10:00 to 17:58 AEST, Monday to Friday, meaning orders can be executed during the Australian business day, outside of regular and extended US trading hours, within a brand-new trading session – US overnight hours.

Webull Australia CEO Rob Talevski said, “Traditionally, US market hours made trading the world’s largest capital market a painful task for us here in Australia, which has been a deterrent for those looking for international equity exposure.

"Now, Webull clients can fully immerse themselves and participate as if they were trading local equities and even benefit from emerging out-of-hours trading events in the US, such as breaking market developments, macro events, or critical company news.

“We’ve designed the Webull Australia platform to optimise the online trading experience, both for experienced investors and those new to the market, and the launch of 24-hour trading is simply an extension of these efforts.”

The new product manages the risk of price movements outside of normal US market hours, allowing traders to enjoy price certainty and guaranteed next-day settlement of their trades, regardless of when orders are executed.

Webull is among the first online brokers in Australia to offer US-equity overnight trading hours, as the local business continues to prioritise innovation to provide its users with the best-in-class investing and trading experience.

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