Budget Forecasts Confirm Robust Economic Outlook

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Budget Forecasts Confirm Robust Economic Outlook

  • Cost of living payments and infrastructure expenditure positive for the economy
  • Full employment + strong GDP growth = Inflationary pressure
  • RBA response to inflation will see interest rates rise
  • Bond yields currently reflect higher future interest rates, but economy to remain strong
  • Equity markets most likely to follow the economy and remain positive

Federal Budget Economic Boost

Full employment, strong economic growth and high commodity prices for Australian exports, support continuing positive momentum for the Australian share market. This is because household consumption remains buoyant following a cut in fuel excise and the announcement of cash payments for low and middle income earners, to alleviate cost of living pressures. Targeting low and middle income earners delivers an immediate cash boost to the economy because that money usually gets spent quickly. Consumer stocks are likely to benefit immediately from this budget initiative.

Infrastructure expenditure featured prominently in the budget outlays, with $17.9 billion set aside for various projects. Far-north Queensland will see a $5.4 billion dam constructed while $0.7 billion has been set aside for the Melbourne international terminal at a cost of $3.1 billion. $0.7 billion will be spent on inland roads and $0.5 billion on NBN upgrades.

This expansionary budget, at a time of full employment, is supportive of business earnings growth and that should underpin the share market at current levels, at least for the foreseeable future.

Robust Economic Growth

A key feature of the budget forecasts is the markedly improved growth outlook for the Australian economy. Economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has been revised upwards from the government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook statement. GDP for 2022 is now estimated at a very robust 4.25 percent (previously 3.75 percent) and for 2023 GDP is estimated to increase by 3.50 percent before easing slightly to 2.50 percent in 2024. These are strong growth numbers.

The equity market will follow the economy. This is another reason to be confident that the share market and other asset prices, including property, should remain buoyant in the period ahead.

Strong economic growth is conducive to strong employment growth. Unemployment now sits at 4 percent. At this level, there have never been more Australians in a job than at present. The budget anticipates unemployment to fall to 3.75 percent in 2023 and remain at this level for the following 3 years. This represents a tight labour market, not seen in nearly 50 years.

Although full employment is generally positive, a note of caution is warranted. Strong economic growth at a time of full employment can lead to higher wages, which in turn creates inflationary pressure. The appropriate response by the Reserve Bank (RBA) under these circumstances, is to increase interest rates. This is aimed at curtailing consumer demand to a level where inflation is contained within RBA parameters. Currently, the RBA inflation target band is between 2 and 3 percent, on average, over time. The 2022 budget forecasts provide for inflation to move 3 percent in 2023. This, being at the high end of the RBA’s target range, implies higher interest rates from late 2022 and into 2023. The 10-year Australian government bond yield heading toward 2.9 percent in reaction to the Federal Budget, confirms that interest rates are set to rise.

It is important however to recognise that interest rates are set to rise for the right reason and is a reflection of the confluence of domestic and global events that have recently tilted in Australia’s favour. This includes historically high commodity prices for Australian exports of LNG, coal, iron ore and for agricultural products like wheat and beef. High export volumes have accompanied these high commodity prices, resulting in Australia presently running a current account surplus with the rest of the world. Coupled with full employment, this outcome is unambiguously positive for all Australians.

What is good for Australians is also good for our equity market. The current economic and financial state appears likely to persist for the foreseeable future, which implies a continuation of the positive trend in Australia’s share market.

Louis Mosmann

Louis Mosmann is a Private Wealth Client and Research Assistant at KOSEC- Kodari Securities. Louis covers macroeconomic events, global markets and ASX300 company announcements, allowing clients to make more informed investment decisions. Email Louis at l.mosmann@kosec.com.au.

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