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Q4 GDP falls short of expectations

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3 minute read

The Australian economy expanded at a slower pace than expected in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Australia’s GDP grew by 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to the national accounts released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Wednesday.

This was just below market expectations for 0.3 per cent growth over the quarter.

GDP rose by 1.5 per cent over the year, after slowing across each quarter in 2023. The Reserve Bank of Australia had pencilled in GDP growth of 1.5 per cent for the year.

“Government spending and private business investment were the main drivers of GDP growth this quarter,” said Katherine Keenan, ABS head of national accounts.

Government final consumption expenditure rose 0.6 per cent in the December quarter after a 1.5 per cent increase in the September quarter, driven by government benefits for households, with more spending on medical products and services and higher employee expenses across Commonwealth departments.

“The Referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice held during the quarter also contributed to the rise in employee expenses,” Keenan said.

A 0.7 per cent increase in private business investment was also highlighted, driven by non-dwelling construction.

“Investment on non-dwelling building construction in the private sector rose 5.0 per cent. The key drivers of non-dwelling building construction were construction on data centres and warehouses,” Keenan said.

Public investment (-0.2 per cent) fell for the first time since September quarter 2022, driven by stage and project completions on transport and health infrastructure by state and local general government.

Net trade contributed 0.6 percentage points to GDP growth this quarter as imports fell 3.4 per cent, while household spending rose 0.1 per cent in the December quarter with increases across all essential categories.

“Households upped their spending on essential items like electricity, rent, food and health. Meanwhile they wound back spending in discretionary areas including hotels, cafes and restaurants, cigarettes and tobacco, new vehicle purchases and clothing and footwear,” Keenan said.

More to come.

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja's career in journalism spans well over a decade across finance, business and politics. Now an experienced editor and reporter across all elements of the financial services sector, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies.