Data to show economy before mass lockdowns

·2-min read

New economic figures in the next week or so will provide some idea what speed the economy was travelling in the June quarter before it was struck by mass virus lockdowns across the country.

While the June quarter national accounts due for release on September 1 will be somewhat dated, it will provide a starting point for an expected contraction the September quarter.

"The extension of the lockdowns announced over the past week will mean a much bigger hit to the economic outlook than we were assuming just two weeks ago," AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said.

He now expects the economy will contract by around four per cent in the September quarter, compared with a previous forecast of a 2.5 per cent decline.

"With case numbers still rising there is an increasing threat to December quarter growth," Dr Oliver warned.

June quarter construction work figures are due on Wednesday.

Forecasts by economists centre on a 2.8 per cent rise in the quarter, slightly stronger than in the March quarter, with gains again expected to centre on housing construction.

The housing sector continues to respond to ultra-low interest rates and the lingering impact from the federal government's HomeBuilder program.

On Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release business investment numbers for the June quarter, another key component of the growth figures contained in the national accounts.

New private business capital expenditure is forecast to rise at 2.5 per cent, building on the gains recorded over the previous two months.

The report will also contain future business investment intentions.

Reports for business profits, inventories and international trade for the June quarter are due the following week.

However, more up to date retail spending figures for July this Friday are unlikely to be as positive, coming at a time of growing restrictions in NSW and an earlier lockdown in Victoria.

Forecasts here centre on a two per cent decline in July, following a 1.8 per cent drop in June.

Meanwhile, the Australian share market looks set for a firm start on Monday, helped by Friday's gains on Wall Street, although the US market ended lower on the week following disappointing economic reports and escalating coronavirus cases in the US.

The S&P 500 rose 35.87 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4441.67, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 225.96 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 35,120.08 and the Nasdaq composite picked up 172.87 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 14,714.66.

Australian share futures rose 35 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 7423.

The local market had also suffered its worst week since January last week, due to uncertainty about the economic outlook and falling commodity prices.

On Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 3.7 points lower, or 0.05 per cent, to 7460.9.

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