Thu, Jun 07, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Australia’s mining-driven economy exceeds forecasts

FULL SPEED AHEAD:The treasurer said the figures were ‘stunning’ proof of Australia’s economic strength, as growth last year came in at 4.3 percent

AFP, SYDNEY

Australia yesterday hailed as “remarkable” the 1.3 percent growth in its mining-driven economy in the first three months of the year, as consumer spending rallied and business investment boomed.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said the quarter-on-quarter expansion, compared with an upwardly-revised 0.6 percent for the final quarter of the year, took annual growth to 4.3 percent.

Both figures overshot forecasts of 0.7 percent and 3.4 percent respectively in a performance driven by rallying consumer spending and business investment, which offset weak exports.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan described the data as “stunning” proof of Australia’s world-beating economic strength, with annual growth at its fastest pace since before the global financial crisis more than four years ago.

“Today’s national accounts paint an extraordinary picture of exceptional growth in the March quarter ... putting our economy in a league of its own, despite ongoing global turbulence,” Swan said of the “remarkable outcome.”

However, analysts warned against too much optimism, saying the figures were likely to be an “aberration” given the weakening in conditions since March.

“Our assessment is that it would be very dangerous to assume that this sort of growth will continue,” AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said. “Sure, the mining boom has a way to go, but more timely data for April and May suggest that retailing, housing related activity, manufacturers and services sectors are continuing to struggle.”

Canberra expects growth of 3.25 percent in the 2012-2013 fiscal year and 3 percent in each of the following three years, while the Reserve Bank of Australia has tipped growth of between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent.

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