Australian economy grew 0.5% in December quarter

Australian economy grew 0.5% in December quarter


SYDNEY — Australia’s economy grew at a slightly faster-than-expected rate of 0.5 percent in the last quarter of 2019, official data showed Wednesday, in the last reading before bushfires and the coronavirus fully hit.

Gross domestic product grew a fraction more than the 0.3-0.4 percent rate predicted by economists, even as business investment tailed off outside the mining sector.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said it was monitoring a series of natural disasters closely but warned that “more impacts are expected from both the bushfires and COVID-19 in the March quarter”.

On Tuesday, Australia’s central bank slashed interest rates to a record low and said it was ready to provide further action if needed as policymakers around the world pledge economic support against the impact of the coronavirus.

In lowering rates by 25 basis points to 0.50 percent, Reserve Bank of Australia boss Philip Lowe warned global growth was expected to be lower in the first half of 2020 and COVID-19 was also having a “significant effect” domestically. — AFP

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