As April arrives
Queenslanders are clearing up after the devastation of Cyclone Debbie which damaged homes, businesses
and agricultural crops. The full financial cost won't be known for some time, but in the meantime our
thoughts and best wishes go out to all those affected.
Cyclone Debbie hit our shores just as the Australian farm sector had been enjoying the best conditions
for decades. In early March, farm cash incomes were tipped to rise by 11 per cent this financial year
before falling to more 'normal' levels in 2017-18, according to the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and
Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
We hope you get some time to relax over the upcoming month with many holidays
taking place for a lot of people. We will be available and the office itself will only be closed on the
Public Holidays designated for Queensland. Daylight Saving has finished so we are again more aligned to
other time zones for many of you.
On the global economic front, the big news in March was the US Federal Reserve's decision to lift interest
rates by 0.25 basis points to between 0.75 per cent and 1 per cent. This is the second rise in three months,
with two more expected this year. The immediate effect is a rise in the cost of funds for anyone borrowing
in the US. Australia's big four banks, which get 40 percent of their funding overseas, lifted home loan
interest rates for owner occupiers and investors.
The Australian dollar also jumped to 77.3 US cents on the news before
slipping back below 77 US cents. The Reserve Bank opted to keep official rates steady in March, weighing
up the continuing property boom in parts of the country with a softer employment market and low wages
growth. Unemployment rose to 5.9 per cent in February from 5.7 per cent in January.