Australia's central bank, which holds its first policy meeting of the year on Tuesday, could use the opportunity to deliver a surprise interest-rate cut to underpin the economy and dent the appeal of the robust Aussie dollar, strategists told CNBC.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) lowered interest rates by 125 basis points last year, taking its benchmark interest rate to 3 percent, amid a weakening labor market and prices of some key commodities Australia exports.
Its latest move was a quarter-point cut in December and was recent enough for many economists to say the RBA will hold its fire this month. Markets put the chances of a rate cut this week at just 18 percent.
Still, some analysts say that with inflation benign and data still pointing to weakness in some sectors of the economy, further monetary easing should not be ruled out.
"There is more chance of a rate cut on Tuesday than markets are pricing in," said Ray Attrill, co-head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney.
"After the CPI (Consumer Price Index) numbers (released) in January we thought that tilted the balance in favor of a move in February, having previously anticipated a move in March," he said, adding: "Our view is that the Australian economy is much weaker than generally understood."
Australia's consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter and compared with a 1.4 percent increase in the third quarter, data released last month showed.
A survey released last week meanwhile showed that the manufacturing sector remains weak. The Australian Industry Group's manufacturing index fell 4.1 points in December to 40.2, well below the 50 level that separates contraction from expansion.
"The possibility of a surprise rate cut seems plausible," Ilya Spivak, currency strategist at Daily FX said in a research note. "Although the international landscape has somewhat improved since December's rate decision, Australia's domestic profile seems to have suffered. Most worryingly, PMI (Purchasing Manager's Index) data point toward accelerating contraction across the industry spectrum and on key activity gauges including output, employment and exports."