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Australia economy ekes out modest growth in 2Q

September 4, 2013

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s economy grew in the second quarter but not strongly enough to prevent unemployment rising as a mining boom fades.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday the economy expanded 0.6 percent in the April-June quarter from the previous quarter. It grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter.

The figures underline the challenges that will be faced by a new government following national elections Saturday that pit the governing center-left Labor Party against a resurgent conservative alliance.

A slowdown in China, the biggest customer for Australia’s iron ore and coal, has forced down commodity prices and taken the heat out of a boom in mine construction.

Australia’s Treasury forecasts the number of jobless to increase more than 70,000 in coming months. The government’s finances are turning a deeper shade of red, forcing cuts to public services.

The statistics agency said finance, mining and construction industries were the main drivers of growth in the last quarter. The economy grew 2.6 percent from a year earlier.

Australia was the only developed nation to avoid recession after the 2008 global financial crisis, an achievement in large part due to Chinese demand for minerals and low national debt that allowed the government to provide Australians with cash handouts.

But China’s leaders are now trying to shift the basis of the world’s second-largest economy toward domestic consumption and away from industry and exporting. That is proving painful for countries such as Australia that became big suppliers to China during its two decades of breakneck economic expansion.

Update hourly