Australian Inflation Stays Strong, Highlighting Challenge Facing RBA - Kanebridge News
Share Button

Australian Inflation Stays Strong, Highlighting Challenge Facing RBA

Housing and education were among the main drivers of inflation in the March quarter

Thu, Apr 25, 2024 7:00amGrey Clock 2 min

SYDNEY—Australian consumer price inflation remained strong in the latest quarter, illustrating the challenge the country’s central bank faces in bringing inflation back to target and adding uncertainty around the timing of interest-rate cuts.

The consumer-price index rose by 3.6% in the March quarter from a year earlier, meaning the annual inflation rate is now more than half of its peak at the end of 2022, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed. Still, CPI rose by 1.0% on a quarterly basis, accelerating from the 0.6% increase recorded for the three months through December.

The ABS’s monthly CPI indicator rose 3.5% in the 12 months to March.

Housing and education were again among the main drivers of inflation in the March quarter. “Rents continue to increase at their fastest rate in 15 years,” Michelle Marquardt, head of price statistics at the ABS, said on Wednesday.

Central banks around the world are finding the last mile in their battle to tame inflation to be the hardest since they began raising interest rates at an unprecedented clip in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. That challenge has led to a redrawing of expectations around when central banks will start to loosen policy and provide borrowers with relief on debt costs.

In the U.S., stubborn inflation persisted in March, derailing the case for the Federal Reserve to begin reducing interest rates in June. Higher-than-expected CPI rattled asset classes, pushing stocks down on the day that the report was released and driving up bond yields.

Many of the drivers of inflation in the U.S. also confront the Reserve Bank of Australia in its deliberations around when to pivot toward a dovish stance on rates. Global energy prices are higher on geopolitical tensions, which is significant for Australia as a large importer of crude oil.

Still, Australia also faces domestic price pressures in areas such as healthcare and housing that complicate the RBA’s efforts to get inflation back into its 2% to 3% target band by the end of next year and muddy the outlook for interest rates.

The next few months are likely to witness such events as a reasonably big rise in the minimum wage of Australian workers and the delivery of generous income tax cuts midyear. These will coincide with a federal budget that is likely to include new spending measures designed to take the pain out of rising living costs.

As a result, economists are divided over whether the RBA will be confident enough that inflation is under control to cut interest rates this year, and some think it will be the last major central bank to loosen policy.

The Australian dollar strengthened against the greenback as investors bet on the RBA staying on hold for longer in the wake of the CPI data. Australian government bonds slumped in response to the strong inflation data, with both 2- and 10-year yields rising after the release.

Westpac on Wednesday scrubbed its call that the central bank would lower interest rates in September, instead seeing a maiden cut in November.

“All told, the data reinforce our conviction that the RBA is unlikely to cut rates before 4Q,” said Abhijit Surya, Australia and New Zealand economist at Capital Economics. “If anything, the slew of upside surprise raise the risk that the bank will feel the need to hike rates further.”


What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

Related Stories
To Find Winning Stocks, Investors Often Focus on the Laggards. They Shouldn’t.
By KEN SHREVE 12/06/2024
Louis Vuitton Unveils Its Most Extravagant High-Jewellery Collection Ahead of Olympics
By LAURIE KAHLE 09/06/2024
Sylvester Stallone Sells His Knockout Watch Collection, Including the Most Valuable Modern Timepiece Sold in Sotheby’s History
By ERIC GROSSMAN 08/06/2024

These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at .