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GDP growth good, but could be better

GDP growth good, but could be better

Economists says Australia's economy remains sluggish, but is not weakening substantially.

Australia's economic growth remains solid but the devil is in the detail.

Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) was up 0.6 per cent in the June quarter, for an annual rate of 2.6 per cent, the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

The figures were in line with the median market forecast but some economists were expecting very weak growth, so the outcome was a relief to investors.

It was also the 22nd consecutive year of economic growth, the longest economic expansion in the nation's history, with the last recession having ended in 1991.

But JP Morgan Australia chief economist Stephen Walters said June quarter growth was not high quality.

He was expecting 0.2 per cent growth for the quarter, but said the economy was "stumbling along at a stubbornly sub-trend pace" despite the mining investment boom and a steadily falling cash rate.

"Essentially the domestic economy got no worse last quarter as the peak in mining investment nears, but nor did it get materially better," he said.

Decent export growth was more than offset by another surge in imports, due to ongoing spending on the expansion of the mining industry, Mr Walters said.

"Government consumption was unexpectedly healthy over the quarter, but consumer spending was lame and dwelling investment dropped, despite the rate cuts."

He said June quarter GDP was helped by a build-up of inventories, and an increase in government spending.

"Hardly a good signal for growth going forward, as firms will look to shed the unwanted stock accumulation," Mr Walters said.

"We know that both the state and federal levels of government are in an austere mood, so this is unlikely to continue."

HSBC Australian chief economist Paul Bloxham said the economy was a bit sluggish, but growth was not hardly disastrously slow.

"There are still few signs the economy is rebalancing, aside from the pick up in the established housing market, but we expect that is yet to come," he said.

"While mining investment has peaked, the ramp up in resource exports is just beginning.

"We remain of the view that the mining story is slowing - not collapsing - as it shifts from being investment to export-led."

The finer details of the national accounts showed consumers are still reluctant to spend, Westpac chief currency strategist Robert Rennie said.

"It doesn't feel that there is too much to crow about in the data on that basis," he said.

"Household demand is not show signs in filling the gap in economic growth again.

The rise in the rate of savings is certainly indicative of an anxious household sector.

"So it's underwhelming on economic growth."

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Tags JP MorganGDPAustralian economy

More about Australian Bureau of StatisticsHSBCJP MorganMorganWestpacWestpac

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