Australia’s economy booms to pre-pandemic levels as consumers, businesses spend

 Australia’s economy booms to pre-pandemic levels as consumers, businesses spend

People cross a busy street under holiday decorations in the city centre of Sydney, Australia, December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Australia’s economy raced ahead last quarter as consumers and businesses spent with abandon, lifting output back above where it was last year when pandemic lockdowns tipped the country into its first recession in three decades.

The economy expanded by a real 1.8% in the three months to March, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday. Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast a 1.5% rise following an upwardly revised 3.2% gain in the fourth quarter.

The solid back-to-back quarterly growth helped annual output climb 1.1% to A$525.7 billion ($408.05 billion), a major turnaround from last year’s recession low of $468.3 billion.

The better-than-forecast figures pushed Australia’s benchmark share index (.AXJO) to record highs while supporting the local dollar near a one-week…

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