Bad news looms in big week for data
By Ethel Hazelhurst
Johannesburg - By the end of the week, the Reserve Bank's monetary policy committee will have a raft of fresh data to guide members when they meet on June 12 to decide whether to raise interest rates again.
After 4.5 percentage points in rate hikes since June 2006, the prime overdraft rate is at 15 percent. Monthly mortgage repayments are up by more than a third.
Statistics SA will release first-quarter figures on gross domestic product (GDP) tomorrow, last month's consumer inflation on Wednesday, and producer inflation on Thursday. On Friday the Reserve Bank will publish data on April credit extension and the SA Revenue Service on April foreign trade.
Though a Reuters poll of 15 economists has forecast that CPIX (consumer price index minus mortgage costs) would fall from 10.1 percent in March to 10 percent, economists expect little in the way of good news. The Efficient Group said the GDP data would be the first to capture the effects of the electricity crisis.
Last week the University of Stellenbosch's Bureau for Economic Research (BER) forecast growth in household consumption would fall from 7 percent last year to 2.4 percent this year. GDP growth would fall from 5.1 percent to 3.4 percent.
The bureau predicted an average exchange rate of R8.50 a dollar in the fourth quarter. The weak currency, and rising petrol and food costs, will put upward pressure on prices. The BER said CPIX would peak above 11 percent in the second half. It put average annual CPIX at 9.3 percent - 3.3 percentage points above the Reserve Bank's 6 percent target ceiling. It projected producer inflation at an annual average of 14.4 percent.
Slower economic growth was due partly to rising inflation and interest rates. But the BER also highlighted the electricity crisis.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is to meet on the 11th and 12th of June 2008. it is widely expected that the MPC will increase interest rates. This may have a major effect on your finances. If the rate changes you may find yourself paying more than you budgeted for. Banks use the interest rate to determine how much you have to pay them every month. Now is a good time to review your finances before things change. No-one wants to lose their house and reviewing and tightening your finances now, may help you survive the current economic downturn.