THE Reserve Bank has cut official interest rates to a new low in a decision that paves the way for the cheapest home loans in more than 40 years, a weaker Australian dollar and further increases in house prices.
Returning from a two-month summer break, the RBA board ended a mounting frenzy of speculation over whether interest rates should, or would, be cut, choosing to end a period of interest rate stability that had seen official rates at 2.5 per cent for the 17 months, since August 2013.
Economists still expect the bank to cut rates at least one more time this year.
“We hope lenders will pass on the full rate cuts and more to their variable rate home loan customers because there’s no excuse not to pass on the full cuts. Lenders have kept 0.45 percentage points on average of cash rate cuts from variable rate home loan customers since the cash rate began to fall in November 2011,” said Michelle Hutchison, an analyst at Finder.com.au
Few were expecting an interest-rate cut only a week ago, citing the RBA’s December statement that “a period of stability in interest rates” was the most likely course. But an article by veteran Herald Sun finance commentator Terry McCrann last Thursday — who has accurately predicted more than half of the RBA’s interest rate moves since the GFC — moved expectations dramatically in the direction of a rate cut.