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Australia links rate decision to upbeat views

AUSTRALIA'S central bank took into account China's robust growth and signs the United States recession has reached a turning point when it left interest rates unchanged at a 49-year low earlier this month.

Details of the bank's more upbeat views on the global and Australian economies were revealed yesterday with the scheduled release of the minutes of its last rate-setting meeting on July 7.

The document bolsters hopes that Australia's sluggish economy will avoid a technical recession of two consecutive quarters of economic contraction thanks to demand for iron ore and coal.

But the minutes also indicated that there is still scope to cut interest rates further if it is necessary.

Australian interest rates reached a 49-year-low in April, when the bank cut the benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 3 percent.

The April move marked 4.25 percentage points of cuts since the beginning of September last year.

The minutes of the July 7 decision said Australia's "economic activity was not as weak as expected."

Growth of 2 percent in Australian exports during the six months from September through March had been "surprisingly strong," the bank's directors said.

They agreed that the "global economy was stabilizing."

On the world's largest economy, the eight directors "noted signs that the rate of deterioration in the United States had slowed and that the economy may be reaching a turning point."


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