Monday, 18 December, 2017

Australian economy gets investment lift, but consumers squeezed

GDP: Australia's economic growth improves but disappoints the optimists WA shows green shoots with best growth in two years
Laurie Berry | 06 December, 2017, 10:35

Australia's economy grew at a slower pace than expected in the third quarter, feeding into economists' concerns about a lopsided expansion as businesses chalk up strong profits while consumers keep their wallets tightly closed.

The annual growth rate of 2.8 per cent was up smartly from a revised 1.9 per cent previously, and partly reflected the 0.4 per cent growth contraction recorded in the 2016 September quarter dropping out of the equation.

THE Aussie dollar has experienced a sharp drop this morning after economic growth figures for the year to September were released.

"If you can't get a stronger consumer, it's pretty hard to get momentum going in GDP", said Su-Lin Ong, Sydney-based chief economist at RBC Capital.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the figures indicated "solid" economic growth, however, with growth accelerating from 1.9 per cent to 2.8 per cent through the year. But household consumption grew by just 0.1% in the quarter and is tracking weak growth levels not seen in nearly a decade.

Weak wages growth weighed on household budgets again, despite the declining unemployment rate.

Some of that spending had to be funded by saving less, with the savings ratio down at a lowly 3.2 percent compared to around 7 percent just three years ago.

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Senior government officials hailed the result as an investment-driven growth story that places Australia among the fastest-growing developed economies in the world, but analysts focused on the weakest household consumption figures since the global financial crisis.

But a cloud still hangs over the Australian consumer, with record household debt, years of record-low wages growth, and, more recently, softening house prices. "We believe it will", said Paul Dales, chief economist at Capital Economics.

Non-dwelling construction added 0.9 percentage points to growth during the quarter, more than offsetting a 0.1 percentage point decline from residential building.

"We have seen an increase of more than 1000 jobs a day".

This came despite compensation for employees increasing by 1.2 per cent for the quarter and 3.0 per cent over the past 12 months.

"Business conditions, as surveyed, are at their highest level in 20 years. our enterprise tax plan is a key part of this, which is why it must be supported".

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