Australian Capital Spending Rises in 3Q

By James Glynn Features Dow Jones Newswires

Australian firms scaled up investment spending by 1.0% in the third quarter from the second quarter, as a long-running slide in mining investment shows signs of exhaustion.

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That was in line with economists' expectations ahead of Thursday's release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In the year through September, total new capital expenditure rose by 2.3%.

The data also showed that companies expect to invest A$108.9 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year, a forecast almost 5.6% higher than a previous estimate in June and 1.6% above levels a year ago.

Following a mining boom that peaked in around 2012, resource firms have been scaling back investment spending, which in turn has worked to damp GDP growth.

That phase is now ending, with the focus turning to exports from freshly commissioned liquefied natural gas plants in northern and eastern Australia.

Australia's iron-ore production capacity has also multiplied in the past decade, with China's emergence as global economic force lifting commodity prices sharply.

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Australia's services exports are booming, with a lot of the investment in sectors like tourism, healthcare and education not picked up in the government survey.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe recently said he remains upbeat on Australia's GDP growth outlook as the economy finally shrugs off the mining investment slowdown.

The RBA recently forecast above-average growth for the economy in coming years of more than 3%, with a synchronized global growth upswing doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

The high Australian dollar is commonly listed as a headwind for the economy, but with the RBA likely to keep interest rates on hold for longer as other central banks tighten, more forecasters are expecting the Aussie to fall over the next year.

-Write to James Glynn at james.glynn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 29, 2017 19:50 ET (00:50 GMT)