House prices could fall 20 per cent as rates bite: ANZ

The RBA has increased official interest rates by 1.75 percentage points since May as it seeks to reduce inflation pressures across the economy.

Inflation reached a 21-year high of 6.1 per cent in the June quarter. The Australian Bureau of Statistics will introduce a monthly inflation measure on October 26.

But preliminary data, released on Tuesday, shows the monthly measure substantially higher than the quarterly figure.

The ABS estimates inflation measured at a monthly level reached 6.8 per cent in June. Prices for petrol, new dwellings and food all contributed to the rate, which would be the highest since early 1990.

Australian Statistician David Gruen said while inflation would be measured monthly, only about two-thirds of items that made up the consumer price index would have up-to-date prices each month.

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“Items where prices typically change more frequently and will have up-to-date prices each month include food, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, rents, petrol and holiday travel,” he said.

Critics of the RBA’s sharp interest rate movements have complained that inflation is largely being driven by supply chain disruptions and high commodity prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Minutes of the RBA’s August meeting, at which it lifted the cash rate by half a percentage point, show the central bank believes other issues are likely to contribute to inflation pressures across the economy.

The bank, which is tasked with holding inflation between 2 and 3 per cent, is forecasting inflation to peak around 7.8 per cent by the end of this year before gradually easing.

According to the minutes, capacity constraints were pushing up prices, but supermarkets were passing on higher supplier costs to their customers, in part due to recent bad weather. Prices for services, such as restaurants and takeaways, were also picking up strongly.

As wage growth started to pick up, that would flow into higher prices for consumers.

“While supply constraints were expected to ease further over time, growth in labour costs was expected to rise in response to tight labour market conditions and become the main driver of inflation over the second half of the forecast period,” the minutes noted.

Commonwealth Bank’s head of Australian economics, Gareth Aird, said the minutes suggested the bank was getting close to the point at which it would pause its increase in interest rates.

He said it was still likely the RBA would use its September meeting to lift rates by another half percentage point, but this could be changed depending on this week’s wage and jobs figures.

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