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3 Nov 2023 - Hedge Clippings | 03 November 2023



Hedge Clippings | 03 November 2023

While most punters will focus on the result of the Melbourne Cup just after 3 pm next Tuesday, homeowners with a mortgage will be more interested in the outcome of the RBA's November board meeting, due half an hour earlier at 2:30. Given most Australians' obsession with the Cup, it's unlikely many will wait until after the RBA's announcement to decide if they should have a bet or not, but given all four of the big banks are tipping a rate rise, they can probably make their decision beforehand. In addition, the queues at the TAB make a last minute bet difficult to place anyway.

It will be too late for Michele Bullock and her board colleagues to take on board, but it will be interesting to see if the number or value of wagers drop in the face of a general tightening of belts in mortgage land.

As we mentioned last week, Hedge Clippings is not convinced there will be a rise of 0.25%, in spite of the RBA increasing their forecast for inflation in the December quarter to 4.5%. They're still of the view that inflation will fall to 3.3% by the end of 2024, and further to 2.9% by the end of 2025, back (just) within their target range of 2-3%. The quarterly inflation figure of 5.4% released by the ABS last week showed a continuing downward trend from last December's peak of 7.8%, in spite of an uptick in September's monthly figure to 5.6%. The reason behind our lack of conviction lies in the price of oil, and volatility of the price of petrol at the pump, with automotive fuel jumping 7.2% in the September quarter, as outlined in this piece from the Conversation.

Had the price of fuel stayed constant (we wish!) over the quarter, September's quarterly inflation would have been 5.1% rather than 5.4%. And given the necessity for many Australians of filling up at the pump, and the flow-on effects via transport costs contributing to the supply chain, fuel's impact on discretionary spending is likely to dampen consumer demand across the board.

While we may be out of step with the expectations of the big four banks, there's no doubt rates are going to stay higher for longer - as they are in the US, with the Federal Reserve keeping rates on hold this week. We're certainly better off than the UK, where inflation is still stubbornly high at 6.7%, having hit a 41 year peak of 11.1% in October 2022.

However, things can't be all bad in the Old Dart, as evidenced by this snippet we came across this week: "The latest figures from the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that grapes currently account for 36% of England's soft fruit crop. In England and Wales, vine planting has increased 74% to 4,300 hectares in the last five years, and is expected to rise to a total of 7,600 hectares by 2032 - yielding a potential 24.7 million bottles of wine annually."

So no more jumping in the car, nipping across the channel, and filling the boot up with cases of French plonk. However, a trip down the A3 or M4 doesn't quite have the same allure.

Changing tack:

For those interested in trend following and systematic trading, Hedge Clippings has been offered a strictly limited number of spaces to a presentation and launch of the "Aussie Turtles" systematic trend following investment style, where a panel including Jerry Parker from Chesapeake Capital, one of the original Turtle Traders will speak to the "Turtles Experiment" which aimed to determine whether trading is a skill that can be learned, or requires innate talent.

The event is sponsored by East Coast Capital Management, and being held in Double Bay in Sydney on Thursday, 16 November 2023, from 6.00pm to 8.30pm, and will include refreshments. As above, space is strictly limited. For further details, please register your interest to attend here.

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