Inflation not hitting the mark
Australia’s record low-interest rates are set to remain in place after consumer prices posted a lower-than-expected increase of 0.6% in the January-to-March quarter. The smidge of an increase was led by hikes in the cost of beef (3.7%) and petrol prices (8.7%), but subdued by falls in the price of fruit (-1.6%) and cereals (-2.7%). Overall, inflation was as lukewarm as former UK PM Tony Blair’s mullet – rising just 1.1% over the past 12 months. That’s the lowest increase on record and well below the Reserve Bank’s aim of 2-3%. The Reserve Bank said it won’t raise official rates until that target is hit, but analysts say that scenario is unlikely for at least a couple of years. Today, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will deliver a speech outlining plans to spend bigly on employment programs to give the economy the kick it needs to return to solid growth.
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