Australian central bank keeps rates on hold at 2.5%

Tuesday 01 July 2014 07.45
Australian central bank worried about recent strength of its dollar
Australian central bank worried about recent strength of its dollar

Australia's central bank kept interest rates on hold at a record low 2.5% today, as a resilient currency and softening commodity prices hobbled the economy's shift away from mining. 

The Reserve Bank left the cash rate unchanged for its 10th meeting in a row as it continued to highlight the need for accommodative monetary policy to "provide support to demand and help growth to strengthen over time". 

But it expanded on its frustrations about the recent strength of the Australian dollar, saying it was "offering less assistance than it might" in lifting growth in non-resources sectors. 

"The exchange rate remains high by historical standards, particularly given the declines in key commodity prices, and hence is offering less assistance than it might in achieving balanced growth in the economy," RBA governor Glenn Stevens said. 

Australia is transiting away from an unprecedented boom in the mining sector, which has helped it avoid a recession for more than two decades. 

The economy has lost some momentum after a strong start to the year saw it post 1.1% growth in the first quarter, with recent data recording an easing in new building approvals as well as a moderation in retail sales and house prices. 

Consumer confidence also weakened in the wake of a tough federal budget in May that cut back on government welfare and spending, although it has recovered slightly since then. 

Stevens repeated his expectation that growth would be "a little below trend over the year ahead" as the transition continues. 

While the statement was broadly similar to those from previous months, Stevens tweaked his commentary on the expected fall-off in mining investment, noting it was "starting to decline significantly" rather than "set to".