With the year rapidly running to a close it’s time to look at what 2015 might bring us economically.
Looking at 2014 we can see how difficult such predictions are with even the experts getting things wrong.
Last year the Australian Business Economists Executive Committee, (ABEEC) made up of some of the country’s top economists, was expecting a mildly positive year on the stock market with rises of 4.5 per cent and the S&P/ASX 200 predicted to close at 5574 points.
As it turned out the year has been volatile with the market gaining only a few points.
At the beginning of the year the S&P/ASX 200 index stood at 5320 points and as the year closed it is around 5400 points, a gain of only 1.5 per cent.
There’s still plenty of disagreement about the outlook for shares in 2015.
Peter Quinton, research director with stockbrokers Bell Potter, is expecting the market to be at 5850 this time next year and describes his view as “close to the upper end of consensus.”
The economy will be flat and he sees “nothing to excite ” on the horizon so he advises investors to spread their money across all sectors of the market.
James Lennon of advisory group Fat Prophets is far more optimistic, targeting 6200 at the end of 2015 for the S&P/ASX 200.
That will be driven by “some recovery in commodity prices” with falls in the Australian dollar and interest rates also giving the economy a boost.
“The US economy should continue to improve which will be good for China and commodity prices,” Mr Lennon said.
Credit Suisse falls in the middle predicting a 6000 market index but no growth in earnings per share in a flat economy.
The housing markets have been running very hot in recent times but that should slow considerably in 2015.
Robert Mellor, property analyst with research group BIS Shrapnel, says price rises in Sydney should ease to between five and six per cent next year.
That comes off stellar rises of 12 to 13 per cent in 2014 and 14.5 per cent in 2013.
In Melbourne the apartment market is likely to soften when perhaps as many as 10,000 excess apartments come onto the market through 2015, Mr Mellor says.
But detached housing prices should rise three per cent after making gains of between five and six per cent in 2014 and 10 per cent in 2013.
Property prices have outstripped BIS Shrapnel’s expectations with Mr Mellor saying “we expected Sydney prices to rise between 20 and 25 per cent over three years but they’ve risen 25 to 30 per cent over two years.”
Interest rates look like remaining at record lows with no commentators calling a rise in 2015 but a number, including Mr Lennon and some of the major banks, believing there will be one or even two cuts next year as the economy weakens and unemployment rises.
That could see rates fall as low as two per cent but the Reserve Bank of Australia has been hosing such predictions down saying
ABEEC was spot on with its interest rate prediction for 2014 interest rates tipping the cash rate would be at 2.5 per cent at year’s end and that’s where it is.
But with unemployment they were a bit on the optimistic side tipping 5.8 per cent while the figure now is 6.3 per cent.
BIS Schrapnel analyst Richard Robinson says he expects unemployment to rise to 6.5 per cent in 2015 and GDP growth to fall from 2.7 per cent currently to 2.4 per cent.