Forex - Aussie steady in early Asia with RBA rates ahead

RBA monetary policy statement incoming: Markets eye comments on AUD strength

The Reserve Bank of Australia will wrap up its monetary policy meeting on Tuesday and then announce its decision on interest rates, highlighting a busy day for Asia-Pacific economic activity.

"However, rate hikes may be some way off as well; recent declines in the U.S. dollar and strengthening commodity prices have placed added pressure on the Australian dollar, which may reduce export demand". The RBA has kept the cash rate at a record low of 1.5 percent since August 2016. "With employment levels also steady, this is good news for the property market on the whole", said Ms Pilkington.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has signalled greater discomfort with the appreciating Australian dollar which it sees challenging its expectations for growth and jobs. "An appreciating exchange rate would be expected to result in a slower pick-up in economic activity and inflation than now forecast", RBA governor Philip Lowe said in the central bank's latest statement. Higher prices for electricity and tobacco are expected to boost CPI inflation.

RBA's increased concern about the Aussie "neutralizes the more upbeat labor market commentary and will probably be interpreted as a shift in a dovish direction", said Michael Blythe, chief economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The RBA noted in the minutes of its July meeting that a "neutral" cash rate would be 3.5%, representing a potential of eight rate hikes.

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The RBA is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 1.50%.

"The low level of interest rates is continuing to support the Australian economy", the RBA said.

The Australian dollar slipped to around US$0.8005 on the remarks, from US$0.8020, before rebounding. There's also the worry that, between slim pay packets and record household debt at 190 percent of income, as well as people putting aside less savings in order to make ends meet, the country could face a consumption crunch. They also want to know the central bank's assessment of the economy and summary of forecasts that will be unveiled in full on Friday.

The central bank said it still expected a gradual pick-up in inflation and forecast the A$1.7 trillion economy to grow at around 3% over the next couple of years.

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