Economists evenly divided on possibility of RBA December rate cut: Bloomberg

By the smallest majority, economists polled by Bloomberg are still tipping the RBA to leave the cash rate on hold when it meets for the last time this year on December 4.

Of the 25 economists polled this week, 13 expect the cash rate to remain at 3.25% with 12 expecting it to fall to 3%.

ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan (the only of the major bank economists to correctly tip a rate hold on Melbourne Cup Day) and Westpac’s Bill Evans expect the RBA to cut the cash rate on December 4 while the Commonwealth Bank’s Michael Blythe and NAB’s Alan Oster favour the RBA pausing until at least February next year.

Economists will get a better sense of the RBA’s thinking on the December rate decision when the minutes of the November 6 monetary policy meetingare released on Tuesday (December 20) while on the same day RBA governor Glenn Stevens will deliver a speech to CEDA (The Committee for Economic Development of Australia) with the topic not yet known.

“The board minutes are always worth a look, but comments are likely to be similar to those in the latest statement on monetary policy,” says CommSec chief economist Craig James.

“The speech by the Reserve Bank governor should provide more interest. At this time there is no topic set for the speech, but if the governor wants to send a message – perhaps on the Aussie dollar, wage growth or views on the global economy – this will be the opportunity,” he says.

James, who was not part of the economists surveyed by Bloomberg. He is expecting the RBA to hold rates in December, but still maintain an easing bias and to cut early in 2013.

Looking beyond December – should the RBA hold the cash rate – consensus among economists is for one more rate cut in 2013 with the second quarter of the year (April to June) the most likely period the cash rate could fall. However there is wide divergence in individual economists’ rate expectations.

For the first quarter of 2013, there are six economists tipping the cash rate to fall to 2.75% including Brian Redican from Macquarie Bank, Stephen Koukoulas from Market Economics alongside economist from 4 Cast Ltd, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch.

This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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