Reserve Bank of Australia keeps interest rates on hold at 4.75%

14:36, April 05, 2011      

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In a widely expected decision, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on Tuesday announced to keep official interest rates on hold for the fifth month in a row at 4. 75 percent.

The board of the central bank last raised interest rates in November last year, but since then numbers of constrain economic data, particularly in regards to household spending, as well as natural disasters in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, have lowered the nation's economic growth outlook for the short-term.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said he expects these effects to be temporary.

"The recent disaster in Japan will have a noticeable effect on Japanese production in the near term, although the impact on the broader Asian region is expected to be limited," he noted in a statement released on Tuesday.

"The (Australian) natural disasters over the summer have reduced output and the resumption of coal production in flooded mines is taking longer than initially expected.

"Production levels should however recover over the months ahead and there will be a mild boost to demand from the rebuilding efforts as they get underway."

Stevens said the current inflation was consistent with the bank 's medium-term objective of monetary policy, "having declined significantly from its peak in 2008".

He said that these moderate outcomes are being assisted by the high level of the exchange rate, the earlier decline in wages growth and strong competition in some key markets, which have worked to offset large rises in utilities prices.

Meanwhile, National Australia Bank chief market economist Rob Henderson said the Reserve will need to see some better economic data before lifting rates again.

"We're expecting them to (hike) 25 (basis points) in August and 25 in November, and we're sticking with that, but obviously we'd need to see strong data between now and then for that to happen," he told ABC News on Tuesday.

UBS chief economist Scott Haslem also said despite the mining boom, the resilience of the Australian dollar has helped keep inflation in check.

"Whereas for many advanced economies there is not a strong relationship between exchange rate movements and domestic inflation, the evidence suggests a high Australian dollar is certainly doing some of the RBA's work, at least as far as 'goods' or 'tradeable' prices in the economy are concerned," Haslem said in a statement released before the rates decision.

The decision did nothing to move the Australian currency, which remained unchanged at 103.27 U.S. cents just before and after the decision.

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