RBA position little changed since Feb
Market watch top headlines
SYDNEY, March 5 AAP
March 05 2013, 3:25PM
See if you can spot the difference.
On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) confirmed it would keep the cash rate at three per cent, as widely expected.
In the statement issued by its governor, Glenn Stevens, the RBA said: "The inflation outlook, as assessed at present, would afford scope to ease policy further, should that be necessary to support demand."
"Demand" means spending, by the way.
And here is what the RBA said when it kept rates steady at its previous meeting on February 5: "The inflation outlook, as assessed at present, would afford scope to ease policy further, should that be necessary to support demand."
Notice the difference?
Of course you didn't.
That's because there isn't one.
There were tweaks to the rest of the statement, but the tone was very much the same as it was last month.
The world economy is negotiating a slow patch but is expected to pick up, financial market sentiment has steadied and commodity prices, although down from their peak, are still high.
The local economy is growing at "about trend", something that should be confirmed with the December quarter national accounts on Wednesday.
While the mining investment boom's peak is approaching, there will be room for the rest of the economy to fill the gap it leaves, or "rebalance", as some economists have taken to calling it.
And there are signs that the rebalancing fairy has waved her magic wand, with conditions in the housing market becoming a bit more buoyant and building activity picking up.
But the non-mining parts of the economy are hardly booming - investment outside mining is weak, credit growth is sluggish and the labour market remains soft.
And it's that soft labour market - not so many opportunities for job-seekers and less chance of a pay rise for those in work - that has left the door open for another rate cut.
The RBA expects annual consumer price rises to stay within its two to three per cent target range over the coming one or two years and the subdued labour market is a big part of that forecast.
The RBA flagged the stubbornly high Australian dollar as a concern, as it has done consistently over the past year or so.
There will be another rate cut or two if the spell cast by the rebalancing fairy is not quite strong enough, which is always possible if the exchange rate remains high enough to continue throttling the trade-exposed sectors.
But there's no sign that the RBA is in a hurry to do anything but sit and wait to assess the delayed impact of the rate cuts it's announced over the past 17 months.
That delayed impact "will still take more time to become apparent", the RBA warned in the statement on Tuesday.
So, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, it looks as though the announcement after the RBA's next meeting on April 5, will include a sentence that goes very much read like this: "The inflation outlook, as assessed at present, would afford scope to ease policy further, should that be necessary to support demand."
By Garry Shilson-Josling, AAP Economist