Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

RBA Predicts Rising Resource Exports Will Spur Growth, Sees China Uncertainty

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Australia’s central bank predicts rising resource exports in a more positive global environment will spur growth as the drag from falling mining investment wanes.

In an outlook underpinned by a record-low 1.5 percent cash rate, policy makers said in minutes of this month’s policy meeting that consumption growth would also pick up from a lull in mid-2016 while remaining constrained by low wage growth.

“The higher terms of trade represented a boost to national income, which provided some upside risks to the domestic forecasts,” the Reserve Bank of Australia said Tuesday. It reiterated gross domestic product growth was predicted to accelerate to 3 percent later in 2017 and “remain above estimates of potential growth over the rest of the forecast period.”

The more positive picture is marred by policy makers’ continued struggle with the recent developed-world phenomenon of weak wage growth, low inflation and excess capacity in the labor market. While there are signs of global reflation elsewhere, the return of consumer-price growth to the RBA’s 2 percent to 3 percent is forecast to take some time.

“The recent pick-up in global inflationary pressures could flow through to domestic inflation by more than expected,” the central bank added.

The Australian dollar was little changed after the report, buying 76.84 U.S. cents at 11:32 a.m. in Sydney.

China Growth

The RBA noted growth in China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, had picked up in mid-2016 in response to accommodative financial conditions and fiscal stimulus.

“These outcomes had led to more confidence that Chinese growth would remain resilient in 2017,” it said. But the moves also implied a further increase in China’s debt-to-income ratio that heightened medium-term risk, it said.

“China continued to be one of the main sources of uncertainty for the Australian economy,” the RBA said.

At home, the central bank estimated non-mining business investment had risen about 5 percent in the year through the third quarter of 2016, led by New South Wales and Victoria. A low-rate fueled property boom on the nation’s east coast has also spurred housing construction there.

“The large amount of work in the pipeline was expected to support dwelling investment at high levels over the next year or so, although there was some risk of more cancellations than usual if conditions in apartment markets deteriorated,” it said.