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RBA retains dovish tone, but no urgency to cut

RBA held rates unchanged at 3% as widely expected. The accompanying statement failed to provide fresh clues either. The central bank said the Aussie remains overvalued - still expensive - , global markets remain susceptible to shocks - downside risks appear to have lessened over recent months - and that China growth has remained fairly robust; with regards to inflation, the RBA still retains dovish tone, saying "outlook for inflation gives scope to ease." However, it continues to show little urgency to cur further in the statement.

From the RBA official statement

"In Australia, most indicators available for this meeting suggest that growth was close to trend over 2012, led by very large increases in capital spending in the resources sector, while some other sectors experienced weaker conditions. Looking ahead, the peak in resource investment is approaching. As it does, there will be more scope for some other areas of demand to strengthen."

"Inflation is consistent with the medium-term target, with both headline CPI and underlying measures at around 2¼ per cent on the latest reading. Looking ahead, with the labour market softening somewhat and unemployment edging higher, conditions are working to contain pressure on labour costs, as was confirmed in the most recent data. Moreover, businesses are focusing on lifting efficiency under conditions of moderate demand growth. These trends should help to keep inflation low, even as the effects on prices of the earlier exchange rate appreciation wane. The Bank's assessment remains that inflation will be consistent with the target over the next one to two years."

"During 2012, there was a significant easing in monetary policy. Though the full impact of this will still take more time to become apparent, there are signs that the easier conditions are having some of the expected effects. On the other hand, the exchange rate remains higher than might have been expected, given the observed decline in export prices, and the demand for credit is low, as some households and firms continue to seek lower debt levels."

RBA conclusions are as follow: "The Board's view is that with inflation likely to be consistent with the target, and with growth likely to be a little below trend over the coming year, an accommodative stance of monetary policy is appropriate. The inflation outlook, as assessed at present, would afford scope to ease policy further, should that be necessary to support demand. At today's meeting, taking into account the flow of recent information and noting that there had been a substantial easing of policy as a result of previous decisions, the Board judged that it was prudent to leave the cash rate unchanged. The Board will continue to assess the outlook and adjust policy as needed to foster sustainable growth in demand and inflation outcomes consistent with the target over time."

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