RBA bets safe, leaves rates on hold

Source ANZ

Source ANZ

The Reserve Bank has used its Melbourne Cup Day meeting to leave official interest rates on hold as it continues to hold out hope wages will finally pick up.

The interest rate has been at this level since September 2016.

Governor Philip Lowe said household debt has been outpacing slower growth in household income, making the situation "a continuing source of uncertainty".

Meanwhile, the greenback remained supported after mostly positive US data released late last week added to expectations for a rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

United States shares last night set new records for the second day in a row boosted by rising oil prices, solid USA economic data and a series of strong earnings reports.

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

But third quarter inflation data was slightly below expectations and September retail sales came in weak.

"Inflation remains low, with both CPI and underlying inflation running a little below 2 per cent", Dr Lowe said in a statement on Tuesday.

Still, a more benign inflation outlook would signal the RBA is prepared to remain sidelined well into 2018, and potentially for some time beyond, resisting the lead of overseas central banks, economists warned. "This is likely to continue for a while yet, atthough the stronger conditions in the labour market should see some lift in wage growth over time", he said.

Most of the economists surveyed expect the RBA to start lifting rates by the second half of next year.

"The higher exchange rate is expected to contribute to continued subdued price pressures in the economy".

The RBA appears happier regarding house prices, with the national market cooling considerably over recent months.

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