As the days get shorter and temperatures begin to fall, Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers is working to complete his second Budget, due to be delivered this evening – Tuesday 9 May.
All eyes were on the Reserve Bank board as it met prior to the Federal Budget to decide whether or not to increase the cash rate. The board decided to increase the cash rate from 3.6% to 3.85%.
The good news is that there are signs inflation is slowing. The latest figures show the annual rate at 7%. The March quarter saw prices rise just 1.4%, the lowest increase in two years, although consumers are still feeling the pressure of rising prices in a number of areas. The most significant contributors to inflation remain fuel and utility prices, medical and hospital expenses, tertiary education and domestic travel costs.
The welcome inflation easing and a rally on Wall Street buoyed local markets a little with the ASX200 ending the month slightly higher.
The unemployment rate remains at a near 50-year low of 3.5%. With consecutive months of strong growth in female employment (up 81,000 over the past two months), the female participation rate increased to a record high of 62.5%.
The Australian dollar held on at just over US66 cents against the US dollar.
Meanwhile, iron ore prices have been tumbling as China’s property market falters and there are fears the falls could continue.