Australia keeps rates at 3.0%

Australia's central bank kept interest rates on hold at 3.0 percent Tuesday, saying global downside risks appeared to have eased but domestic pressures were lingering.

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens said there were a "number of indications that the substantial easing of monetary policy during late 2011 and 2012 is having an expansionary effect" but more time was needed.

The stubbornly high Australian dollar was squeezing local industries despite a drop in export prices, while households and businesses remained cautious.

Globally, however, the picture was improving, with the United States expanding at a "moderate" pace while growth in key market China had "stabilised at a fairly robust pace", shoring up similar improvements across Asia.

"Global growth is forecast to be a little below average for a time, but the downside risks appear to be reduced," said Stevens following the bank's monthly meeting on monetary policy.

"At today's meeting, the board judged that it was prudent to leave the cash rate unchanged."

The Australian dollar was little changed by the widely expected decision, dipping from US$1.0460 to US$1.0450.

Rates have been held since December at 3.0 percent, a historic low not seen since the global financial crisis and well below their most recent peak of 4.75 percent seen in October 2011.