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Economic Backdrop


This week saw a series of economic news paint the latest picture of the Australian economy - and there's positive news for the country.

Corporate Profits

Firstly, Australian Corporate profits recorded a rise of over 20% on last year, the fastest gain since 2001. Surprisingly, retail trade, accommodation and food, transport and warehousing were all lower, however financial services, mining, construction and professional services were all substantially higher.

The exceptionally strong commercial and residential real estate markets and the related construction and finance activities have contributed to the strength of corporate profits.

The profit change results by sector are shown in the graph below.

The lack of profit growth in wholesale, retail, transport, administration, accommodation and food are not good signals for the property sector seeking strong rental growth to offset the inevitable rising cost of debts in the medium term.

Current Account Deficit

Australia's Current Account data was also released this week, revealing the lowest deficit since 2001. Surging exports (notably iron ore and LNG) despite a strong Aussie dollar was offset by a minor increase in imports.

Export volumes are expected to continue to rise subject with China, the predominant recipient.

Gross Domestic Product

The improved current account deficit, buoyed by higher commodity prices and larger volumes provided a strong foundation for an improved economic growth rate.

After posting a negative GDP growth quarter in September 2016, the December quarter figures announced this week bounced back to a high of 1.1% bringing the annual GDP growth rate to 2.4% and avoiding a technical recession.

Household spending and exports both added 0.5 percentage points to GDP, while public investment contributed 0.3 percentage points.

The strongest contributors to growth were agriculture, mining, and professional services which is consistent with the Company Profit stats released earlier in the week.

By state, the strongest final demand gains were recorded by the Northern Territory, up 3.7 per cent, Victoria, which rose 1.7 per cent, and the ACT, up 1.6 per cent. NSW grew 0.8 per cent, with Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania all posting 0.9 per cent gains. WA posted a 0.4 per cent rise.