At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate to 4.25 per cent, effective 7 December 2011.
A Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor or the Reserve Bank of Australia indicated growth in the global economy has moderated this year after a strong performance in 2010. Some of the slowing reflected temporary factors, and as these passed, the pace of expansion in the United States and much of Asia began to pick up around mid year. China's growth has been slowing, as policymakers there had intended. Trade in Asia is now, however, seeing some effects of a significant slowing in economic activity in Europe.
Information about the Australian economy suggests output growth has been close to trend, with demand growth stronger than that. The unemployment rate has increased a little since mid year, though it remains close to 5 per cent.
CPI inflation on a year-ended basis remained above the target at the latest reading, due to the effects of weather events last summer, but is now starting to decline as production of key crops recovers. Moreover, with labour market conditions now softer, the likelihood of a significant acceleration in labour costs outside the resources and related sectors in the near term has lessened. Accordingly, the Bank's current judgement is that inflation is likely to be consistent with the 2–3 per cent target in 2012 and 2013, abstracting from the impact of the carbon pricing scheme.
The reduction in the cash rate as a result of the Board's previous decision flowed through to lending rates, which are now around their average level of the past 15 years. Short-term market interest rates have tended to decline a little further in recent weeks, though term funding conditions for financial institutions have become more difficult. Credit growth remains subdued and asset prices have declined further over recent months. The exchange rate has been quite variable over the past few months, but remains at an historically high level.
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