6 Dec 2010

Australian economy cooling

6:32 am on 6 December 2010

After cruising through the global financial crisis, some of the heat is going out of the Australian economy.

The country's grew by 0.2% in the September quarter, about half the rate economists expected.

Outside the farm sector the economy contracted, though mining and farming still look strong.

Weaker exports were the culprits, due partly to the strong Australian dollar and the accumulating effects of seven increases in interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia in the past year.

Australia's commodities boom boosted spending power but also stretched the capacity of the economy to meet demand without driving up inflation.

The signs are now that consumers are saving more and people are becoming more aware of risk, a Radio New Zealand correspondent reports.

The board of the Reserve Bank holds its final meeting of the year on Tuesday and interest rates are seen as likely to remain on hold for a few months at least.