Aussie bond yields and dollar rise after central bank delivers another surprise rate hike

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The Australian dollar and bond yields surged, while stocks fell on Tuesday after the Reserve Bank of Australia delivered a second-straight surprise interest rate hike, cautioning that that might not be the end of it.

The Aussie dollar
AUDUSD,
+0.71%

climbed 0.7% to $0.6670, while the 10-year Australian bond yield
TMBMKAU-10Y,
3.812%

rose 3.6 basis points to 3.826%. The S&P ASX 200
XJO,
-1.20%

fell nearly 1% to, 7,147.

The RBA lifted the official cash rate by 25 basis points to 4.10%, its highest level since early 2012. RBA Gov. Philip Lowe, who last week warned that higher wages and a lack of productivity growth could lead to more hikes, said in a statement that “further tightening of monetary policy may be required to ensure that inflation returns to target in a reasonable time frame.” Whether or not more hikes will be carried out depends on the evolution of the economy and inflation, he added.

“Today’s decision could have gone either way, but in the past few weeks there has been a sea change in Australia when it comes to how the RBA is viewed as well as its competence,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note to clients.

“Last month the RBA surprised the markets by unexpectedly hiking the cash rate by 25bps to 3.85%. Only days before that decision the RBA had been heavily criticized for being too slow in spotting the inflation surge seen at the end of 2021, and through 2022,” wrote Hewson.

“This criticism appears to have stung, and now the hawkish turn we’re currently raises the prospect the central bank could possibly overcompensate in the opposite direction. This runs the risk of them tightening too hard and unsettling the housing market. That said the headline rate in Australia remains well below its immediate peer the RBNZ where it sits at 5.5%, so the RBA still has plenty of room to catch up,” he said.

Australia’s rate hike, the 12th in its current cycle, and in just more than a year, comes days ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Markets are pricing in a 77.6% probability that the Fed will leave interest rates unchanged at a range of 5.0% to 5.25%, according to the CME FedWatch tool

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