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The Reserve Bank has delivered some badly needed relief to mortgage holders, deciding today to leave official interest rates on hold.

For the first time since February, the RBA board did not use its monthly meeting to lift rates which now stand at 4.5 per cent.

In a statement, bank governor Glenn Stevens said the issues around sovereign debt in Europe and its impact on financial markets were a major reason behind the move.

He said the impact of these on the wider economy were still to be determined, arguing global growth is still expected to be around trend for the rest of this year.

But Mr Stevens signalled interest rates were likely in the future on the back of the return of the mining boom.

“In Australia, with the high level of the terms of trade expected to add to incomes and demand, output growth over the year ahead is likely to be about trend, even though the effects of earlier expansionary policy measures will be diminishing,” he said.

“Inflation appears likely to be in the upper half of the target zone over the next year.

Consistent with that outlook, and as a result of actions at previous meetings, interest rates to borrowers are around their average levels of the past decade, which is a significant adjustment from the very expansionary settings reached a year ago.”

The decision followed new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which showed retail sales growing 0.6 per cent in April and a 14.8 per cent collapse in dwelling approvals.

However, the retail sales – while stronger than expected – were pushed up by food sales which jumped 1.3 per cent. Once this sector, which accounts for 40 per cent of all sales, is excluded retail was up just 0.1 per cent.

Other ABS figures showed government spending is holding up the economy and will add about 0.8 percentage points to tomorrow’s GDP result. Without that burst, the economy may have actually contracted in the March quarter.

CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said the figures showed the RBA had no option but to leave rates where they are for some time to come.

“Given the latest round of data, there are good reasons for the Reserve Bank to leave rates on hold for the next few months,” he said.

“Not only are retail sales holding at very weak levels, but the housing sector is showing signs of consolidation.”

Treasurer Wayne Swan says the Reserve Bank’s decision to leave the official cash rate unchanged is a “welcome relief”.

“This news will be welcome relief to Australian families and businesses around the country, who are of course doing it tough,” Mr Swan told parliament minutes after the decision was announced.

The national accounts for the March quarter are due for release on Wednesday.

“I have every confidence that with right polices in place, our economy can continue to be one of the best in the world over coming years,” Mr Swan said. Consistent with that outlook, and as a result of actions at previous meetings, interest rates to borrowers are around their average levels of the past decade, which is a significant adjustment from the very expansionary settings reached a year ago.”

“Not only are retail sales holding at very weak levels, but the housing sector is showing signs of consolidation.”

“Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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West Australians expect the biggest pay rises of any workers in the country, believing the global recession is over and the mining boom has arrived.

A report by Westpac has found 14 per cent of West Australians expect a pay rise of at least 8 per cent over the coming year, while another 21 per cent think they’ll get a rise of between 4 per cent and 8 per cent.

It is the highest proportion of workers in any State who think they will be rewarded with a wage rise two or three times the rate of inflation.

And in a sign of the confidence of WA workers, just 0.4 per cent of those surveyed say they will have a pay cut – the lowest proportion of any State. By contrast, more than 6 per cent of South Australians fear they will have their pay cut while just 19 per cent expect a pay rise of at least 4 per cent.

More than 35 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 expect a pay rise of at least 8 per cent compared to less than 10 per cent of people aged 55-64. While 35 per cent of respondents who earn more than $100,000 a year expect at least an 8 per cent rise, less than half of those earning under $40,000 expect any pay rise.

CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said that despite signs of optimism, Australian consumers were increasingly conservative. While household disposable income had grown almost 8 per cent last year, close to the fastest rate in 19 years, consumer spending had lifted just 2.2 per cent or the slowest in 16 years.

“And then there is the news that 70 per cent of Commonwealth Bank home loan customers are ahead in their loan repayments – making higher repayments than they need to,” he said. “How long this new conservatism continues remains anybody’s guess.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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