Thursday March 7, 2013

0.6% Aussie Q4 growth on exports pick-up

SYDNEY: Australia's economy grew 0.6% in the three months to December thanks to a pick-up in exports but analysts warned the country's mining boom covered up weakness in other sectors.

The bureau of statistics said the quarter-on-quarter expansion followed a 0.7% gain in the September quarter, and resulted in a 3.1% annual growth rate in 2012, compared with 2.3% in 2011.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the numbers represented “21 continuous calendar years of growth for Australia, which is a record unmatched by any other advanced economy over this period.”

He also hailed a 3.3% rise in exports in the three months to December as “the second-fastest quarterly increase in almost a decade” as coal and iron ore shipments rebounded, making them the largest contributor to growth.

The mining, manufacturing, health and finance sectors were the main drivers of growth in the quarter, each contributing 0.1 percentage point to the increase in GDP, the bureau said.

The plunge in Australia's terms of trade the value of its exports against its imports slowed to 2.7% from 5.3% in the previous quarter, suggesting conditions were improving in the key mining sector.

However, tepid consumer spending growth of 0.3% and a clear divide between mining and non-mining states indicate there are still imbalances in the economy, with southern provinces technically in recession as the north booms.

“Australian GDP growth clearly slowed through the course of last year,” said AMP Capital Investors economist Shane Oliver.

The Reserve Bank of Australia cut rates by 125 basis points in 2012 to historic lows of 3%, hoping to stoke non-mining areas of the economy as resources sector investment approaches its peak. AFP

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