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Pause likely at Lowe's final interest rate call


The Reserve Bank of Australia has few reasons to fire off another interest rate hike this week and is widely tipped to leave monetary policy unchanged for the third month in a row.

RBA board members will meet on Tuesday for the final cash rate call with Governor Philip Lowe at the helm.

After lifting interest rates from a record low of 0.1 per cent to 4.1 per cent since May last year, two consecutive pauses in July and August have fuelled hopes its tightening cycle is done.

A survey of 38 experts and economists by comparison site Finder found all but one expect the central bank to do nothing in September.

A majority, or 66 per cent, believe the cash rate has peaked.

HSBC Australia economist Paul Bloxham still has one more hike pencilled in at some point, although he does expect the RBA to hang tight in September.

Mr Bloxham believes the central bank will maintain a modest tightening bias, however, after it recently made it clear it was keeping its options open in the months ahead.

But economic data over the past month points to no change in September, with the job market showing signs of softening and wages tracking sideways in response.

The monthly consumer price index also cooled convincingly, falling from 5.4 per cent in June to 4.9 per cent in July.

Mr Bloxham said the downward trajectory for consumer price inflation was good news for the RBA.

"However, core inflation still remains too high, with some areas of persistent price pressures, such as rents, and other services prices, key upside risks," he wrote in a client note.

A slowing Chinese economy was also likely to feature in the board's discussions on Tuesday, he added.

More details could emerge when Dr Lowe gives a speech - his last as governor before his deputy, Michele Bullock, takes the reins on September 18 - to the Anika Foundation on Thursday. The speech is titled 'Some closing remarks'.

On Wednesday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the key national accounts numbers for the June quarte.

As well as economic growth, the report will include data on wages, prices and productivity.

The Australian economy has been losing steam as higher interest rates bite, with Commonwealth Bank economists pencilling in a relatively weak 0.2 per cent rise in quarterly growth and about 1.7 per cent over the year.

In the March quarter, the economy expanded by 0.2 per cent, and by 2.3 per cent over the year.

Other key data from the ABS this week includes business indicators, including company profits, on Monday and balance of payments and government finance data on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the bureau will release international trade data for July.

Meanwhile, the Australian stock market is expected to open higher on Monday, despite a mixed performance on Wall Street on Friday after jobs data pointed to a pause in interest rates.

The US Labor Department said the August unemployment rate rose to 3.8 per cent while wage growth slowed. Nonfarm payrolls rose more than expected, though data for July was revised lower to 157,000 job additions.

The data adds to recent macroeconomic evidence that the US Federal Reserve is winning its battle against inflation.

The US S&P 500 climbed 0.18 per cent to end at 4,515.74 points while the Nasdaq declined 0.02 per cent to 14,031.82 points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.34 per cent to 34,838.47 points.

The main Australian equities futures contract rose 31 points to 7274 points in weekend trading, pointing to a stronger start for the week.

On Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished 27 points lower at 7,278.3, while the broader All Ordinaries dropped 27.9 points to 7,489.9.

The US stock market will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday.