August 2021 Insights

It’s August, and this chilly winter and periodic lockdowns can’t end fast enough for many of us. One bright spot, along with the golden wattle at this time of year, is the golden performance of our athletes in Tokyo.

The economic fallout from on-again, off-again lockdowns continued in July. The annual rate of inflation rose from 1.1% to 3.8% in the June quarter. This temporary blip was due to higher prices for childcare (which was free in the June quarter last year), petrol and goods in short supply due to supply chain and workforce disruptions. Even so, the Reserve Bank has said it won’t consider lifting interest rates until inflation is “sustainably” within its 2-3% target range.

The Australian economy is expected to contract and unemployment to rise in the September quarter, after the jobless rate fell from 5.1% to a 10-year low of 4.9% in June. Not surprisingly, consumer confidence as measured by ANZ and Roy Morgan fell to an 8-month low of 100.7 points in July. Retail trade fell 1.8% in June but remained 2.9% up on a year earlier.

There are positive signs though for Australian miners’ profits and dividends. Crude oil and natural gas prices are up around 50% this year, while iron ore prices are up 24% due to the gradual reopening of global economies and China’s strong growth, up by an annual rate of 7.9% in the June quarter. Record exports pushed Australia’s trade surplus to a record high of $13.3 billion in June. Australia’s housing boom is also increasing demand for materials, with housing construction hitting a two-and-a-half year high in the March quarter.
The Australian dollar fell one cent to around US74c in July.

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