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Australia Inflation Adds Just 1.7% In Q4

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Consumer prices in Australia gained just 1.7 percent on year in the fourth quarter of 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.

That was below forecasts for 1.8 percent, and down from 2.3 percent in the third quarter.

On a quarterly basis, inflation added just 0.2 percent versus forecasts for 0.3 percent and down from 0.5 percent in the previous three months.

The most significant price rises this quarter were for domestic holiday travel and accommodation (+5.8 percent), tobacco (+4.8 percent) and new dwelling purchase by owner-occupiers (+1.1 percent).

The most significant offsetting price falls this quarter were for automotive fuel (-6.8 percent), audio, visual and computing equipment (-5.2 percent) and audio, visual and computing media and services (-3.8 percent).

The Reserve Bank of Australia's trimmed mean was up 0.7 percent on quarter, exceeding forecasts for 0.5 percent and up from 0.4 percent in Q3. The mean was also up 2.2 percent on year - in line with forecasts and down from 2.5 percent in the third quarter.

The RBA's weighted median added 0.7 percent on quarter versus expectations for 0.5 percent and up from 0.6 percent in the three months prior. The median also added 2.3 percent on year, topping expectations for 2.2 percent and down from 2.5 percent in Q3.

Also on Wednesday:
• Westpac Bank said that the Australian economy appears to be stuck in neutral, as its December leading index was flat on month. That follows the 0.06 percent decline in November.

The leading index has reflected growth that is below trend in 11 or the last 12 months, the bank said.

"With commodity prices continuing to fall in 2015, incomes and confidence remain under pressure," the bank said.

• Skilled vacancies in Australia were down 1.0 percent on month in December. That follows the upwardly revised 0.7 percent decline in November (originally -0.8 percent).

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