Reserve Bank economic growth
Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe

Contrary to what you might have seen from some media outlets, Australia's long run of problematically low inflation didn't end in the December quarter, but the Reserve Bank (RBA) still faces a difficult task in deciding whether to further cut interest rates at its meeting on Tuesday.

Headline inflation over the course of 2018 was 1.8% and that's exactly where 2019 ended as well, according to this week's consumer price index (CPI) figures. That's below the 1.9% RBA forecasted for December -- close, but when you're dealing with persistently weak inflation below target, every decimal point counts.

Trimmed mean inflation, a seasonally adjusted measure of core inflation that strips out more volatile items, came in at 1.6%. This is exactly on forecast for the bank, which relies on the trimmed mean figure as a better guide to what's happening in the economy. But the trimmed mean number has been at 1.6% in annual terms all year, and it's still below where it ended 2018.