Australia’s Growth Exceeds Expectations In Q4

Australia’s economy expanded more than expected in the fourth quarter ahead of the spread of coronavirus, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed Wednesday.

Gross domestic product climbed 0.5 percent sequentially after expanding by revised 0.6 percent in the third quarter. Economists had forecast the growth to ease to 0.4 percent.

On a yearly basis, GDP advanced 2.2 percent, faster than the expected growth of 2 percent.

GDP growth remained subdued at the end of last year, and given the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, the economy is expected to deteriorate further in 2020, Ben Udy, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

“The economy has continued to grow and picked up through the year, however the rate of growth remains below the long run average,” chief economist at the ABS, Bruce Hockman, said.

The GDP data came a day after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its key rate by 25 basis points on Tuesday. RBA Chief Philip Lowe said GDP growth in the March quarter is likely to be noticeably weaker than earlier expected due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Household consumption grew 0.4 percent and government spending gained 0.7 percent. Meanwhile, private gross fixed capital formation fell 1.1 percent.

Hockman said falls in dwelling investment continued, declining 3.4 percent during the quarter, the sixth consecutive fall. This fall was consistent with the decline in construction industry value added, falling 2.3 percent.

He said the mining industry provided additional strength to the economy, with growth in production volumes of 1.6 percent.

A monthly survey data from the Australian Industry Group showed that the Performance of Construction Index increased by 1.4 points to 42.7 points in February indicating a further easing in the construction industry’s rate of decline.

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