December 10, 2018 / 6:22 AM / a month ago

Australia central bank rates seen at record lows until mid-2020: Reuters poll

Two women walk next to the Reserve Bank of Australia headquarters in central Sydney, Australia February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s central bank is seen likely to stand pat on rates at least until mid-2020, a Reuters poll shows, as a recent run of soft economic data quashed any probability of an earlier rate hike.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) held policy at an all-time low of 1.50 percent for a 28th straight month last week, in a widely expected move, stretching its record spell of steady rates.

A median of 39 economists had then predicted a hike in 2020. But disappointing third-quarter gross domestic product data and tepid October retail sales prompted the market to completely wipe out the probability of a rate hike even in 2020 <0#YIB:>.

The latest poll of 31 economists shows a median prediction of no change to rates through mid-2020. Only 11 respondents forecast at least one hike by March 2020 compared to 23 out of 38 economists in the previous poll.

Earlier in the day, RBA’s assistant governor Chris Kent reiterated the next move in rates was still likely an increase amid expectations for a gradual lift in inflation but a cut was a possibility, if need be.

Reuters conducted the poll after last week’s GDP data that showed growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the third quarter.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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