Australia's Leading Index Signals Robust Growth Momentum

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Australia’s leading index improved in September suggesting that momentum continued to show a significant improvement consistent with the economy moving out of recession, data from Westpac showed Wednesday.

The six-month annualized growth rate in the Westpac Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity relative to trend three to nine months into the future, rose to -0.48 percent in September from -2.28 percent in August.

The leading index growth rate has lifted a whopping 5.11 percentage points since April, data showed.

The main components driving the improvement have been US industrial production, the S&P/ASX 200, aggregate monthly hours worked, the Westpac-MI Consumer Expectations index, and the Westpac-MI “Unemployment Expectations index.

However, these gains have been partially offset by a bigger drag from commodity prices and the dwelling approvals.

Westpac upgraded its growth outlook for 2021 to 2.8 percent and that for 2022 to 3.5 percent.

Key factors behind the improvement are a boost to consumer demand, as households spend around 50 percent of the personal tax cuts, and a lift in business investment in response to the accelerated depreciation allowances.

Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac expects the cash rate, the three year bond target rate and the rate on the Term Funding Facility to be reduced from 0.25 percent to 0.10 percent at the upcoming meeting on November 3.

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