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ANZ's grim interest rates warning for mortgage holders

Australia's fourth-largest bank believes the RBA won't cut interest rates until February next year.

ANZ bank logo next to people walking in public
ANZ has become the first of the Big Four banks to push its interest rate cut prediction to 2025. (Source: Getty)

A major Aussie bank has pushed back its prediction for the next interest rate cut. With the current cash rate at a 12-year high of 4.35 per cent, homeowners across the country are desperate for some mortgage relief.

But it looks like they could be nearly a year away from that reality if ANZ's forecast is correct. Australia's fourth-largest bank is now predicting the Reserve Bank (RBA) will deliver a rate cut in February next year.

ANZ becomes the first of the Big Four banks to move its interest rate cut forecast into 2025, with Commonwealth Bank (CBA), NAB and Westpac still believing one could come as early as November this year.

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“For well over a year, we have expected that the first cash rate cut in Australia this cycle would be in November 2024,” ANZ head of Australian economics Adam Boyton said.

“More recently, however, we have been cautioning that the risks around that view were skewed to a later start to the easing cycle."

ANZ believes the cash rate will drop in February next year by 0.25 basis points, before another fall in April and then again sometime in the fourth quarter. That would leave interest rates at 3.60 per cent.

Rate City research director Sally Tindall said ANZ's update is a "timely reminder" for borrowers to think twice when factoring cash rate cuts into their budgets

“While [RBA] Governor [Michele] Bullock has said repeatedly that the cash rate is in restrictive territory – and therefore likely to go down – not even the RBA knows exactly when that will be,” she said.

“The one thing we know for certain is that the RBA is not going to start cutting the cash rate prematurely. It will want to be absolutely sure the cash rate is going to return to target in a reasonable timeframe before it starts sharpening its knife.

“If you’ve got a mortgage, put any chatter of rate cuts out of your mind and focus on building a buffer into your mortgage where you can."

CBA, NAB and Westpac predict there will be five interest rate cuts by the end of 2025 and the official cash rate could go as low as 3.10 per cent.

Many economists recently ditched their 2024 rate cut predictions after data showed the monthly consumer price index (CPI) climbed to 3.6 per cent in the 12 months to April, which was slightly higher than the forecasted 3.4 per cent.

“The disinflationary process in Australia appears to have stalled out so far this year after encouraging declines over 2023,” Betashares chief economist David Bassanese said.

“The upshot of [the] inflation result is that interest rates are likely to remain at current restrictive levels for an extended period – with little relief likely this side of Christmas.”

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham added: “There is a higher chance that the cash rate will be increased in the second half of 2024 than of it being cut."

Tindall said mortgage holders should be proactive and not wait around until the RBA provides relief.

She explained how there are 28 lenders currently offering at least one variable rate under 6 per cent and there are hundreds of dollars in monthly savings out there.

“While the next move for the cash rate is still, on balance, likely to be down, not up, it’s looking less likely that relief from the RBA in the form of a cash rate cut will come until at least 2025.

“A lot of borrowers might think they’re in mortgage prison, or that switching isn’t worth the extra cost. Check that’s actually the case because if you can lock in a rate that starts with a 5 you’ll know you’re not being complacent,” she said.

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