CANBERRA, AAP – New figures will give a further flavour of how the economy is performing in the early stages on 2022 faced with the Omicron variant outbreak and after the strong recovery in the December quarter.

Wednesday’s national accounts showed the economy surged by a strong 3.4 per cent in the December quarter, matching the rebound after the 2020 recession, which was a 46-year high.

This followed the 1.9 per cent contraction in the September quarter caused by the Delta COVID-19 variant lockdowns.

Following this week’s monthly board meeting, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe said the economy has remained resilient and spending is picking up following the Omicron variant outbreak, which had its biggest impact at the start of January.

“Overall, the near term outlook for the Australian economy is bright,” KPMG senior economist Sarah Hunter said.


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However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned there will be a costly clean-up bill following the current floods on the east coast, while the conflict in the Ukraine will result in even higher petrol prices

Data earlier this week showed retail spending grew by a larger-than-expected 1.8 per cent in January with sales at their second highest level on record.

However, building approvals for January due from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday are expected to fall by three per cent as the earlier impact from the HomeBuilder stimulus measure is unwound.

Approvals did jump 8.2 per cent in December reflecting a strong rise in the more volatile “other dwellings” category, while private sector house approvals fell by a further 1.8 per cent and are now down 31.5 per cent since April 2021.

The ABS will also release the international trade balance for January, where economists’ forecast centre on a surplus of $9.3 billion, larger than the $8.4 billion reported for December.

Monthly surpluses have gradually wound back after a record high of $13.3 billion in July last year as iron ore prices retreated from their lofty heights and imports strengthened as the Australian economy reopened .

However, Westpac economists are expecting a 6.7 per cent bounce back in exports for January due to higher prices and shipments of iron ore and coal, outpacing a 2.7 per cent increase in imports due to higher fuel costs.