SWP Newsletter – February 2023

February marks the end of summer holidays for many of us and getting down to business for 2023. It can be a good time to reflect on plans and goals for the months ahead.

China’s plans to kickstart its economy after the pandemic shutdown have been dominating the news this month and will have worldwide implications, not the least for Australia. As our largest trading partner, an increase in demand is likely to bring improvements in our commodity prices, exports and share prices (particularly of companies exposed to China).

Australian shares were up nearly 8% in January while US stocks climbed by about 5% but the markets are nervously waiting for expected increases in interest rates by major central banks this month to help curb inflation.

Australia’s inflation rate jumped by 1.9% in the December quarter to 7.8% for the year. It was the biggest increase since 1990 and more than twice the rate of wage growth, despite the Reserve Bank’s moves to increase the cash rate during 2022.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index increased slightly in January to finish at 86.8 points but it’s still 15 points behind the same time last year. The NAB business conditions survey recorded a third successive fall in December although business confidence improved slightly and remains well above average.

The Aussie dollar fell slightly from near eight-month highs, easing towards US70c ahead of the expected rate rises by major central banks overseas.