RBA offers 'welcome relief' as interest rates kept steady

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has kept the official cash rate on hold at 4.5 per cent.

Announcing the decision in parliament, treasurer Wayne Swan said it would be "welcome relief’" to Australian families and businesses struggling with debt repayment bills.

The pause on rates follows six consecutive interest rate hikes since last October.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said that interest rates are now at "average levels" and that the central bank has opted for caution in the near term due to the European debt crisis and the resultant uncertainty in global share markets.

Meanwhile, Nomura Australia chief economist Stephen Roberts told news.com.au that he felt the RBA would likely keep the official cash rate on hold for "quite a few months".

Rising debt concerns may prompt more Aussies to compare interest rates in search of the best loan deals. It was reported last week that families which fail to pay their bills will lose their power connections if a new national consumer energy law is signed off by the states and territories this month.

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