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Australian consumers confident, exports up
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-01-11 15:35
Australia's consumers are at their most confident in 17 months in January, and exports rose in November.

The statistics suggest growth may accelerate in the country.

Consumer confidence jumped 7.3 percent from December, according to a survey by Westpac Banking Corp and the Melbourne Institute released yesterday in Sydney.

Exports rose for a third month, narrowing the trade deficit to A$843 million (US$657 million) in November, a separate government report showed.

A 30-year-low jobless rate and a stockmarket at a record high have buoyed confidence in the face of three interest-rate increases last year, Bloomberg News reported.

Jobs boost

Increased overseas shipments, and stronger consumer spending may stoke a rebound in the economy, which grew at the slowest pace in three years in the third quarter.

"There's resilience in this economy," said Su-Lin Ong, senior economist at RBC Capital Markets in Sydney. "Exports are encouraging, although the pickup is slow; and whatever you throw at consumers, like those interest-rate increases, they remain pretty confident."

Australia's dollar bought 78.03 US cents at 4:37pm in Sydney, from 78.02 US cents at 10:29am, before the first of yesterday's reports was released.

The yield on the 10-year bond fell one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 5.86 percent.

Adding to signs of stronger growth as the economy enters a 16th year of expansion, job vacancies surged 5.9 percent in the three months ended November, separate figures released yesterday showed.

Home-building approvals climbed twice as much as expected in November as an employment boom spurred buyers even as borrowing costs rose. The number of approvals rose 4.1 percent from October, the statistics bureau said.

Economists are awaiting the release of December jobs figures today to further gauge the economy's strength, and the likely timing of central bank Governor Glenn Stevens' next interest-rate move.

Australia's 10 million-strong workforce probably grew the most in four years in 2006. Another 15,000 jobs were created in December to add to the 260,000-plus positions created in the first 11 months of the year, according to a survey of 19 economists.

Source:Shanghai Daily 
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