AP News

Australian growth ebbs to 0.6 percent in 2Q

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's growth slowed to 0.6 percent in the second quarter which the government said Wednesday showed the nation's mining-fueled economy is not immune from global woes.

The growth for the April-June quarter was down sharply from the 1.4 percent expansion reported for the first quarter of the year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures also showed that the economy grew 3.7 percent for 12 months through June, with mining, finance and insurance industries the largest contributors.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the prices for Australia's most lucrative exports to a cooling China — iron ore and coal — had fallen more than the government had forecast in May when it announced its economic blueprint to return the nation's coffers to surplus in the current fiscal year.

He said the drop in commodity prices, if sustained, would make it harder to balance the nation's books in the current fiscal year, which began on July 1. But the government remained committed to delivering Australia's first budget surplus since the global economic crisis.

While the mineral prices boom had passed, the investment boom in Australia's resource industry was continuing.

Some companies had recently shelved mine expansion plans, but projects worth 260 billion Australian dollars ($265 billion) remained in the investment pipeline, many of them at an advanced stage, Swan said.

"That is something that's an important economic driver for our country not just now but for a long time to come," Swan told reporters.

"They are decisions which are largely locked in, making that investment pipeline more resilient to ongoing global volatility," he said.

He described the June quarter figure as a "stunning achievement" during three months when some European economies contracted and U.S. growth remained subdued.

"Our economy and our budget are not immune from these international influences and we are not complacent about the challenges that we face at home," Swan said.

The latest quarter marks 21 years since Australia's last recession, the longest period of continual growth in the country's history.

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