Australia central bank keeps door open to cut, but in no hurry to act

Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's central bank again left the door open to further interest rate cuts but signalled no urgency to act because there was a substantial amount of policy stimulus already in place.

In minutes of its October 1 meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) also said it was hard to judge the effects of a recent appreciation in the local dollar, partly because it was uncertain whether this would be sustained.

"Given the substantial degree of policy stimulus that had been imparted, it would be prudent to leave the cash rate at the existing low level while continuing to gauge the effects," the minutes released on Tuesday said.

In a widely expected move, the RBA held its cash rate steady at a record low 2.5 percent this month. It has already slashed a total of 225 basis points off its benchmark rate since November 2011 and appeared to have shifted to a wait-and-see stance.

Repeating the same line in last month's meeting, the RBA said: "Members agreed that the Bank should again neither close off the possibility of reducing rates further nor signal an imminent intention to reduce them."

"The Board would continue to examine the data over the months ahead to assess whether monetary policy was appropriately configured."

Board members also noted a recent pick-up in both consumer and business confidence, but admitted it was difficult to know how significant this development was, given there was no certainty it would last.

The RBA said the effect of low interest rate was clear across many parts of the economy, particularly in the housing market, where prices and turnover have increased.

It also said leading indicators pointed to a pick-up in dwelling investment over the months ahead.

"While credit growth remained moderate, there were signs of an increased appetite for borrowing, most notably among investors."

On offshore developments, the minutes simply said that Board members noted the uncertainty in the U.S. fiscal environment and that the U.S. government would reach its debt ceiling around mid-October.

Touching on China, Australia's single biggest export market, the RBA said recent indications suggested that the Chinese economy was growing at a rate consistent with Beijing's target of 7.5 percent.

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