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Financial News: Australia's Leading Index Falls Slightly In February

Australia's Leading Index Falls Slightly In February

03/22/2017 - 01:38:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Australia's leading index softened in February but it continued to signal above trend growth momentum, the Westpac Institutional Bank said Wednesday.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity relative to trend three to nine months into the future, fell to 1.02 percent in February from 1.34 percent in January.

This was the seventh consecutive month where the growth rate has been at or above trend, the agency said.

The latest reading pointed to above trend momentum carrying through the middle of 2017 consistent with Westpac's forecast for 3 percent growth for the full year.

The main components that pushed up growth over the last six months were commodity prices, in the Australian dollar terms, the yield spread, and a reduced drag from hours worked.

These have been partially offset by an increased drag from dwelling approvals, and weaker reads from the S&P/ASX 200 and the Westpac-MI UE index.

The Reserve Bank Board meets on April 4. Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac, said the bank is likely to remain firmly on hold. The bank may possibly mulling other policy measures to manage risks in the housing market.

Westpac expects the cash rate to remain on hold throughout 2017 and 2018.

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