Australian dollar bounces as RBA sticks to rate hike path

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The Australian dollar regained some ground on Tuesday after the country's central bank raised interest rates to decade highs and stuck with a prediction of further hikes ahead, quashing any thought it was near to pausing.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)increased the cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.10%, the eighth hike in as many months and a total tightening of 300 basis points.

Markets had been mostly priced for a quarter-point move, but with some risk of a pause or a softening in guidance given the amount of hikes already delivered this cycle.

Instead, the RBA said it expected to increase rates further over the period ahead, while adding the caveat that is was not on a pre-set course.

"There is little in today's statement that suggests the RBA have finished their rate hiking cycle," said Sean Langcake, head of macroeconomic forecasting for BIS Oxford Economics.

"Given the tone, we continue to expect at least another 50 basis points of hikes to be delivered in early 2023."

Markets took it as slightly hawkish and lifted the Aussie to $0.6731 AUD=D3 , retracing some of an overnight retreat from $0.6851. The New Zealand dollar firmed to $0.6340 NZD=D3 , but again remained well shy of Monday's top of $0.6441.

Rate futures 0#YIB: slipped as investors priced in more chance of another hike when the RBA next meets in February, and nudged up the implied peak for rates by around 10 basis points to 3.60%. 0#RBAWATCH

Yields on 10-year bonds AU10YT=RR stood at 3.376%, after hitting a three-month low of 3.325% on Monday.

The RBA did note that monetary policy acted with a lag and the full effect of higher rates was yet to be felt, but also emphasised that inflation remained too high.

Consumer price inflation hit a 32-year peak of 7.3% in the third quarter, and a further rise toward 8.0% is expected this quarter.

"We still think that the RBA will want to see solid evidence that inflation is slowing rather than just plateauing at very high levels and it will take a few more months for that evidence to accumulate," said Marcel Thieliant, a senior economist at Capital Economics.

"The upshot is that we expect the Bank to hike rates to an above-consensus 3.85% by April, though we expect a sharp slowdown in GDP growth and inflation to trigger renewed rate cuts from end-2023."
Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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