AUSTRALIA'S ECONOMY CLIMBS BACK
Australia's economy continues to show signs of pulling out of recession, according to several leading indicators:
* Job advertisements increased 8.8 percent over the last two months, according to figures released by the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) Aug. 9. Job advertising is at its highest level in 2 1/2 years and 18.8 percent higher than a year ago.
* The economy grew 3.3 percent in the year to June, according to figures released Aug. 6. Earlier figures had showed the economy growing about 2.5 percent a year.
* Employment rose 92,000 or 2 percent from a year ago, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Yet the unemployment rate is still 11 percent, only slightly down from 11.3 percent a year ago.
"The economy has been in recovery for eight quarters now," says Grant Bailey, an economist at Citibank. "The question is are we accelerating or stuck in growth mode of 2 percent?"
"The leading indicators are encouraging. But other figures say job shedding is up. It's being called a `productivtiy-laden recovery,' the output increases by driving existing plant capacity at great speed. Business still feeling a bit gun-shy [about hiring]."
And Australia's economy is still linked to the world economy. "The US and Japan are not going gangbusters," he says. "It's much like what happened in the US last fall. There was a surge of growth and it backed off. The fear is that these signs could prove to be premature."