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Australia refrains from further easing, Aussie jumps

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on Tuesday held back on further monetary easing, surprising most market watchers who expected a second rate cut in as many months.

The central bank kept the benchmark lending rate at a historic record low of 2.25 percent, despite expectations it would do more to battle weak employment, easing inflation and sluggish corporate profits.

The RBA lowered rates by 25 basis points last month, its first cut in 18 months, following moves by some 20 central banks around the world that have loosened monetary policy this year.

The decision comes on the heels of a surprise announcement by the People's Bank of China over the weekend to lower its rates, its third aggressive move to stimulate the economy in the last five months.

The Australian dollar surged nearly half a cent, from $0.7797 to $7834. Meanwhile, the benchmark S&P ASX 200 index fell into the red, down 0.3 percent.

In a statement, the RBA said it's "appropriate" to leave rates steady for the time being but left the door open for further easing in the future where necessary. It maintained that growth will continue at a below-trend pace and sees domestic demand remaining weak.

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Jack Atley | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"We've certainly expected the RBA to cut today but although they've kept the cash rate unchanged, they're really flagging, that there are at least one more cut to come and possibly more," said Felicity Emmett, head of Australian economics at ANZ, told CNBC.

Analysts who had expected no change to monetary policy say the RBA is waiting for the full effects of its rate cut last month to kick in.

"There has been just as much improvement as deterioration in Australia's economy," said Kathy Lien, managing director of FX Strategy for BK Asset Management, who had expected no change in monetary policy.

"While the labor market weakened, private capital expenditures plunged and manufacturing activity in the month February contracted at its fastest pace since July 2013; retail sales, consumer confidence, home loans, business confidence, trade, service and construction sector activity improved since the last monetary policy," she added.