Australia's RBA cuts rates, markets wonder if that's all

Tue May 5, 2015 1:53am EDT
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By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's central bank cut interest rates for the second time this year on Tuesday, seeking to buttress the economy against sliding mining investment while heading off a harmful increase in the local dollar.

The currency did initially drop after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) trimmed its cash rate a quarter point to a fresh all time trough of 2.0 percent. Yet it soon rallied as investors wondered whether the easing cycle might now be over.

Indeed, the statement announcing the move noted some improvement in the economy while omitting a mention that further action could prove necessary.

"The Board judged that the inflation outlook provided the opportunity for monetary policy to be eased further, so as to reinforce recent encouraging trends in household demand," said RBA Governor Glenn Stevens.

He also offered a nod to recent better data.

"The available information suggests improved trends in household demand over the past six months and stronger growth in employment."

As a result, interbank futures dipped from July onward and short term yields climbed as the market pared back the prospects of rates going under 2 percent. The local dollar first slid half a U.S. cent only to more than reverse the drop to stand at $0.7910.

"The statement is balanced and a bit more positive," said Su-Lin Ong, a senior economist at RBC Capital Markets.   Continued...

An office worker is reflected on the building of the Reserve Bank of Australia as he walks past in central Sydney in this October 5, 2010 file photo.  REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/Files