Australia

Australia's central bank on Tuesday surprised markets by lifting interest rates by a smaller-than-expected 25 basis points (0.25%), saying they had already risen substantially, though it added that further tightening would still be needed, Reuters reported. Wrapping up its October policy meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raised its cash rate to a nine-year peak of 2.60%, the sixth hike in as many months, which included four outsize moves of 50 basis points. The bank had recently flagged a possible slowdown in the pace of hikes at some point.
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Queensland-based cryptocurrency, digital asset exchange and brokerage Mine Digital has collapsed and control handed to external administrators, amid a dispute where it is being sued for allegedly not doing enough to weed out scammers from its platform, the Australian Financial Review reported. On Friday, PKF business recovery and insolvency partner Brad Tonks was appointed administrator of ACCE Australia Pty Ltd, the registered company which trades as Mine Digital. The circumstances behind Mr Tonks’ appointment are unclear.
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Australians looking to buy a new home could actually benefit from rising interest rates as they lower the price of housing enough to ultimately result in lower mortgage payments than they would otherwise face, a top central banker said on Monday, Reuters reported. Speaking at a housing conference, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Assistant Governor Jonathan Kearns said the 225 basis points of rate hikes already delivered could lower prices by at least 15 percent over a two-year period, while also cutting borrowers' maximum loan size by around 20 percent.
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Long Covid is costing the Australian economy the equivalent of $3.6 billion a year in lost output, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an exclusive data analysis, Bloomberg News reported. Based on data from the country’s Treasury estimating some 31,000 workers called in sick because of the condition in June, the analysis by think tank Impact Economics and Policy found the economic cost came in at A$100 million ($68 million) a week, according to the AFR. That amounts to some A$5.2 billion on an annual basis.
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Australia's companies are split, as big miners and airlines expect higher profits on soaring commodities prices and a rebound from COVID-19, while supermarkets, banks and manufacturers are hurt by inflation and stagnant wages, Reuters reported. Annual business results and profit forecasts reveal a divide in the world's 13th-biggest economy between companies, largely international, that collect on rising prices and those, largely focussing on the domestic consumer, that are forced to absorb the higher costs.
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Australia's "Big Four" banks raised their home loan variable interest rates on Thursday, after the country's central bank hiked rates earlier this week, Reuters reported. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corp increased their mortgage rates to match the hike announced by the central bank. The new rates for CBA and ANZ customers will take effect from Aug. 12, while Westpac's rates will apply from Aug. 18. The banks also raised rates on some of their products for customers with savings accounts and deposits.
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Australia’s central bank gave itself wriggle room to adjust the pace of interest-rate increases if the economic outlook deteriorates after delivering the sharpest policy tightening in a generation, Bloomberg News reported. “The board expects to take further steps in the process of normalizing monetary conditions over the months ahead, but it is not on a pre-set path,” Governor Philip Lowe said after hiking by 50 basis-points for a third straight month to 1.85%.
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Australia's economy will grow less than expected in coming years because of a global slowdown, high inflation and rising interest rates, Treasurer Jim Chalmers will say on Thursday, according to excerpts of a speech seen by Reuters. Chalmers will tell parliament that economic growth in the 2021/22 fiscal year that ended on June 30 is expected at 3.75%, down from a forecast of 4.25% made by the previous government in March. Growth forecasts for 2022/23 and 2023/24 have also been revised down by half a percentage point to 3% and 2%, respectively.
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The Zipmex cryptocurrency exchange on Wednesday blocked users from taking direct custody of their coins, citing volatile market conditions, Coin Desk reported. "Due to a combination of circumstances beyond our control, including volatile market conditions, and the resulting financial difficulties of our key business partners, to maintain the integrity of our platform, we would be pausing withdrawals until further notice," the exchange announced on Twitter.

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Australia’s central bank on Tuesday lifted its benchmark interest rate for a third time in three straight months, changing the cash rate to 1.35% from 0.85%, Reuters reported. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s half a percentage point rise was the same size as its June increase. When the bank lifted the rate by a quarter percentage point at its monthly board meeting in May, it was its first rate hike in more than 11 years. Increases at the June and July board meetings were widely expected.
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