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Australia keeps record low interest rates on hold at 1.5 pct
Last Updated: 2017-03-07 15:40 | Xinhua
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For the seventh month in a row, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the country's record low interest rates on hold at 1.5 percent, it was announced Tuesday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia slashed rates 300 basis points between November 2011 and August last year to support non-resources industries as the economy transitions out of a mining investment boom.

It has remained on hold since then.

The decision to stay on hold was widely expected by economists, and the Australian dollar was largely unchanged at 76.02 U.S. cents after the statement.

"The decision from the Reserve Bank was largely expected," National Australia Bank senior economist James Glen told Xinhua.

"The RBA seems pretty comfortable with how the economy is positioned at the moment and rates are probably going to be on hold for a while to come,"he added.

"What we are seeing in a lot of the indicators at the moment is there have been some signs of things improving, business conditions have been quite strong in the last couple of months for example, but my view and the RBA's view diverge a little when it comes to Australia's economic forecast," he said.

"The RBA in their predictions are expecting the economy to pick up around 3 percent next year, above potential growth rates."

"We're a little more concerned about growth opportunities in 2018 because that's when a lot of resource exports will reach full capacity, we will see the housing construction cycle starting to peak around then as well and it just looks like there isn't going to be anything to fill in those gaps,"said Glen.

At this stage it's hard to see how the Australian economy will regain enough momentum to see the interest rates significantly rise, but with strong discussion in the United States around lifting the cash rate there, some analysts see that as a sign Australian may look to follow suit, said Glen.

"The U.S. economy was the first one to cut interest rates aggressively after the global financial crisis and now we are in the process of seeing those low interest rates bottom out, so we expect the interest rates to stay at these levels for while, but you would have to think that in the longer-term, the next move is more likely to be higher," Commsec market analyst Tom Piotrowski told Xinhua.

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