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AUSTRALIA: Australia's CPI rose less than expected in the first quarter, marking
the sixth consecutive quarter where the outcome fell short of expectations, and
shows there is yet no sign of inflation pressures building in the economy.
- The data confirms the Reserve Bank of Australia's worry of continued strong
competition in the retail sector being the main source of deflationary
pressures, and is a reason why the central bank expects progress in inflation
towards the mid-point of the target band to be gradual.
- The data reduces possibility of a cash rate hike in '18 but still keeps intact
the possibility of a hike in early '19. The data was in line with the RBA proj.
& is unlikely to lead to any downward revision in the inflation forecasts in
next month's SoMP. Any risk, therefore, may be slightly to the upside.
- A bright spot in the data was the acceleration in underlying CPI, roughly
taken as the average of trimmed mean and weighted median measures of inflation,
to 1.95% y/y and very close to the RBA's target band. This is the biggest rise
in the last nine quarters where underlying CPI has remained below the RBA band.
(MNI For Full Story See Main Wire At 03:06 BST 04/24)