Australian interest rates will likely remain on hold for an extended time after a central bank commentary Tuesday warned of uneven domestic growth, slowing commodity prices and global debt fears.
The Reserve Bank of Australia said the eurozone crisis, weaker commodities prices and a global economic slowdown remained a "significant downside risk".
The divide between the mining and non-mining sectors of Australia's economy had deepened, with pronounced household caution and a fall in retail sales, the bank said, explaining its decision to keep rates on hold earlier this month.
"Despite official data recording quite strong growth in disposable income and overall measures of consumer sentiment being around their long-run average, households' perceptions about the state of their finances remained well below average," the bank said in the minutes to its July 5 meeting.
"There had been little growth in nominal wealth over the past year, with housing prices having softened and equity prices lower recently... in contrast to the experience of much of the past two decades."
Australia was the only advanced economy to dodge recession during the global downturn and led the Western world in lifting interest rates from 50-year lows of 3.00 percent in October 2009 to 4.75 percent currently.
Resilient demand for its raw materials from Asia has seen commodity prices and consequently Australia's dollar and export earnings soar.
But economists have warned of a dual-speed economy where the mining boom's benefits are failing to reach mortgage-laden householders and the soaring exchange rate is squeezing industries such as tourism and manufacturing.
Consumer confidence slumped to recession levels last week, and the retail industry was rattled by a sharp profit downgrade by top-end retailer David Jones following an unprecedented fall in sales.
Major bank Westpac at the weekend tipped a resumption in rate cuts on the news, forecasting a 25-point easing in December to 4.50 percent and further cuts to 3.75 percent by the end of 2012.
Rates looked to remain on hold, at the very least, from Tuesday's minutes.
"The flow of recent information suggested both that there was more time to assess the likely strength of inflationary pressures in Australia and that it would be prudent to use that time," the central bank said.
The Australian dollar fell to US$1.0627 from $1.0645 just prior to the minutes' release.