01/05/2012 - 14:57

RBA moves on rates, now for the banks

01/05/2012 - 14:57


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RBA moves on rates, now for the banks

The impact of the Reserve Bank's decision to cut its official cash rate by an unexpectedly large 0.5 per cent will become clearer later this week when Australia's big four banks announce their response. Most analysts have already assumed the banks will not pass on the full reduction.

Westpac, ANZ, National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth gave no indication of their response to the RBA decision on Tuesday.

An ANZ spokesman said customers would hear the bank's decision on Friday, May 11.

"We meet on the second Friday of every month and we will be doing that again this month," he said.

Westpac, NAB and CBA said rates were under review.

While federal Treasurer Wayne Swan said customers would be "very, very angry" if the banks did not pass on the full cut, Bell Potter banking analyst TS Lim said he doubted mortgage holders would see a 0.5 per cent fall in home loan rates.

Reductions in the range of 0.3 per cent to 0.35 per cent were likely, he said.

Another analyst, who asked not to be named, said the cut would be between 0.35 and 0.4 per cent.

There was also scope for reductions in fixed interest rate mortgages.

"I think (banks) will drop the rates on deposits and pass on some (of the cut) to home loans," Mr Lim said.

"Deposit rates in recent months have actually been pretty high."

Mr Lim said ANZ was the best placed of the big four to lead with a reduction in interest rates because of its better margins relative to its rivals.

However, having just hiked rates by 0.06 per cent independently of the RBA in April, it was unlikely to backtrack.

"Of all the banks the one who needs to show some leadership would be Westpac," Mr Lim said.

"They need to get their revenue momentum up and running."

Any announcement on rates is likely to be delayed as two banks are in "blackout" ahead of their half-yearly profit announcements, with ANZ reporting on Wednesday and Westpac on Thursday.

On Monday, NAB flagged its first half net profit would come in at $2.05 billion when it unveils its latest set of earnings results next week.

One analyst said NAB was unlikely to lift rates after a multi-billion dollar profit.

Meanwhile national building industry group, Master Builders Australia, called on banks to pass on the full reduction to improve conditions in the housing construction market.


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