Australia clocks 0.6pc quarterly growth
SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s economy grew 0.6 per cent 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 per cent gain in the September quarter, and resulted in a 3.1 per cent annual growth rate in 2012, compared to 2.3 per cent in 2011.
Treasurer Wayne Swan said the numbers represent “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 per cent 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 points 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 per cent from 5.3 per cent in the previous quarter, suggesting conditions were improving in the key mining sector.
However, tepid consumer spending growth of 0.3 per cent 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.