Australia Keeps Cash Rate Steady at record Low of 1.5%


The Reserve Bank of Australia decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at a record low of 1.5 percent during the meeting held on November 1st, as expected. While saying low interest rates have been supporting domestic demand, policymakers projected the economy is to grow at close to its potential rate over the next year and inflation is expected to pick up gradually over the next two years.

Excerpt from the statement by the governor, Philip Lowe:

In Australia, the economy is growing at a moderate rate. The large decline in mining investment is being offset by growth in other areas, including residential construction, public demand and exports. Household consumption has been growing at a reasonable pace, but appears to have slowed a little recently. Measures of household and business sentiment remain above average.

Labour market indicators continue to be somewhat mixed. The unemployment rate has declined this year, although there is considerable variation in employment growth across the country. Part-time employment has been growing strongly, but employment growth overall has slowed. The forward-looking indicators point to continued expansion in employment in the near term.

Inflation remains quite low. The September quarter inflation data were broadly as expected, with underlying inflation continuing to run at around 1½ per cent. Subdued growth in labour costs and very low cost pressures elsewhere in the world mean that inflation is expected to remain low for some time.

Low interest rates have been supporting domestic demand and the lower exchange rate since 2013 has been helping the traded sector. Financial institutions are in a position to lend for worthwhile purposes. These factors are assisting the economy to make the necessary adjustments, though an appreciating exchange rate could complicate this.

The Bank's forecasts for output growth and inflation are little changed from those of three months ago. Over the next year, the economy is forecast to grow at close to its potential rate, before gradually strengthening. Inflation is expected to pick up gradually over the next two years.

In the housing market, supervisory measures have strengthened lending standards and some lenders are taking a more cautious attitude to lending in certain segments. Turnover in the housing market and growth in lending for housing have slowed over the past year. The rate of increase in housing prices is also lower than it was a year ago, although prices in some markets have been rising briskly over the past few months. Considerable supply of apartments is scheduled to come on stream over the next couple of years, particularly in the eastern capital cities. Growth in rents is the slowest for some decades.

Taking account of the available information, and having eased monetary policy at its May and August meetings, 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.

RBA l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com
11/1/2016 3:44:04 AM