Australia Holds Cash Rate Steady At 1.5%


The Reserve Bank of Australia left the cash rate unchanged at a record low of 1.5 percent during the meeting held on February 7th, as expected. While highlighting economic growth over the next couple of years to be around 3 percent, boosted by further increases in resource exports amid the end of declining mining investment; policymakers said inflation is expected to remain low for some time.

Excerpt from the statement by the governor, Philip Lowe:

In Australia, the economy is continuing its transition following the end of the mining investment boom. GDP was weaker than expected in the September quarter, largely reflecting temporary factors. A return to reasonable growth is expected in the December quarter.

The Bank's central scenario remains for economic growth to be around 3 per cent over the next couple of years. Growth will be boosted by further increases in resource exports and by the period of declining mining investment coming to an end. Consumption growth is expected to pick up from recent outcomes, but to remain moderate. Some further pick-up in non-mining business investment is also expected.

The outlook continues to be supported by the low level of interest rates. Financial institutions remain in a position to lend. The depreciation of the exchange rate since 2013 has also assisted the economy in its transition following the mining investment boom. An appreciating exchange rate would complicate this adjustment.

Labour market indicators continue to be mixed and there is considerable variation in employment outcomes across the country. The unemployment rate has moved a little higher recently, but growth in full-time employment turned positive late in 2016. The forward-looking indicators point to continued expansion in employment over the period ahead.

Inflation remains quite low. The December quarter outcome was as expected, with both headline and underlying inflation of around 1½ percent. The Bank's inflation forecasts are largely unchanged. The continuing subdued growth in labour costs means that inflation is expected to remain low for some time. Headline inflation is expected to pick up over the course of 2017 to be above 2 per cent, with the rise in underlying inflation expected to be a bit more gradual.

Conditions in the housing market vary considerably around the country. In some markets, conditions have strengthened further and prices are rising briskly. In other markets, prices are declining. In the eastern capital cities, a considerable additional supply of apartments is scheduled to come on stream over the next couple of years. Growth in rents is the slowest for a couple of decades. Borrowing for housing has picked up a little, with stronger demand by investors. With leverage increasing, supervisory measures have strengthened lending standards and some lenders are taking a more cautious attitude to lending in certain segments.

Taking account of the available information, and having eased monetary policy in 2016, the Board judged that holding the stance of policy unchanged at this meeting would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and achieving the inflation target over time.

Australia Holds Cash Rate Steady At 1.5%


RBA l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com
2/7/2017 4:14:23 AM