National Accounts – December Quarter 2004

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998
Balance of Payments – December Quarter 2004
March 1, 2005
Economy, Interest Rates, Skills Shortages, Immigration – Interview with Nicole Haack, 5AA
March 3, 2005
Balance of Payments – December Quarter 2004
March 1, 2005
Economy, Interest Rates, Skills Shortages, Immigration – Interview with Nicole Haack, 5AA
March 3, 2005

National Accounts – December Quarter 2004



National accounts data released this morning by the Australian Bureau of Statistics

(ABS) show that economic growth slowed in the December quarter2004, with gross

domestic product(GDP) increasing by 0.1percent in the quarter and 1.5percent

through the year. Growth in non-farm GDP was stronger at 2.0percent through

the year. The major contributor to growth in the December quarter was business

investment, while dwelling investment and net exports subtracted from growth.

Domestic final demand has slowed in recent quarters, consistent with a necessary

rebalancing of economic growth. This slowing has been led by a decline in housing

investment and moderating household consumption. The forecast increase in export

growth has occurred more slowly than expected, reflecting a higher exchange

rate, long lead times on new investment in the mining industry, and capacity

constraints on some ports.

Australia has benefited from a significant increase in its terms of trade—

they are currently at their highest level since the September quarter1974—

and this is providing a substantial boost to domestic incomes. Reflecting strong

rises in the terms of trade, real gross domestic income increased by 0.5percent

in the December quarter and 3.5percent through the year, substantially stronger

than GDP. Moreover, higher export prices coming into effect in April 2005 should

see the terms of trade increase further, consistent with forecasts released

yesterday by ABARE for 16 per cent growth in commodity export earnings in 2005-06.

Developments in the farm sector constrained economic growth in the December

quarter. The late arrival of spring rains meant that last year’s grain

harvest is estimated to have been somewhat smaller than the record set in 2003.

As a result, farm GDP fell by 1.8percent in the December quarter to be 13.0percent

lower through the year. This subtracted of a percentage point from GDP growth

in the year to the December quarter.

The largest contribution to growth came from business investment which increased

by 5.8percent in the December quarter and is 10.0percent higher through

the year. Strong growth in business investment is consistent with high levels

of business confidence and a profit share that remains near record high levels.

In the December quarter, the profit share was 26.6percent, only just below

the high of 27.0percent reported in the June quarter2004.

Household consumption increased by 0.4percent in the December quarter, while

dwelling investment fell by 3.5percent. Following the exceptionally strong

rates of growth recorded in these categories in recent years, some slowing in

growth is to be expected. Household income growth remains strong, supported

by increases in both employment and wages, and this will continue to support

household spending over coming quarters.

As indicated in yesterday’s Balance of Payments release, net exports

subtracted 0.6of a percentage point from GDP growth in the December quarter.

Export growth has been weaker than expected, but the significant amount of investment

undertaken in export-oriented sectors in recent years suggests that export growth

will strengthen significantly over the next year. The mining sector alone has

invested around $26.5billion in additional productive capacity over the past

three years. As these projects are brought on line, they will contribute substantially

to export growth.

The increase in the terms of trade contributed to a 1.0percent increase in

the GDP chain price index in the December quarter and nominal GDP grew by a

solid 1.4percent. Domestic inflation remains subdued, with the household consumption

chain price index increasing by 0.6percent in the December quarter and 2.1percent

through the year.

While GDP growth has slowed by more than expected in recent quarters, economic

conditions in Australia remain very strong. The unemployment rate has fallen

to a 30-year low of 5.1percent, interest rates and inflation are at very low

levels by historical standards and business investment is growing strongly.

Increasing business investment will boost the economy’s productive capacity,

laying the foundation for sustainable economic growth over the medium term.



Contact: David Alexander

(02) 6277 7340