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Australian economy shows weak growth at start of year

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The Australian economy spluttered along in the first quarter of the year, official statistics showed on Wednesday, with near-zero growth underscoring fears for the economy Down Under.

[SYDNEY] The Australian economy spluttered along in the first quarter of the year, official statistics showed on Wednesday, with near-zero growth underscoring fears for the economy Down Under.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the economy grew just 0.4 per cent between January and March compared with the previous quarter, a modest increase that was fuelled by government spending.

The Australian economy has avoided recession for almost 28 years, but storm clouds are gathering.

On Tuesday the central bank cut its key interest rate to an historic low of 1.25 per cent in an effort to curb unemployment and juice the economy.

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A housing slump and below-target inflation have been weighing on policymakers.

The rate cut had been expected and analysts believe that more measures to support the economy could be on the way.

"It is not unreasonable to expect a lower cash rate," governor Philip Lowe said in a speech on Tuesday.

GDP per capita - economic output per person - has fallen for three consecutive quarters.

AFP