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Capex plans indicate non-mining pick up

AAP logoAAP 1/09/2016

Business investment plans indicate Australia's non-mining economy may be finally picking up.

Companies collectively expect to invest $105.1 billion in the 2016/17 financial year, which is 9.1 per cent lower than they expected to invest at this time in 2015/16.

But, not only is that a notable improvement on their June estimate of investing $89.2 billion in 2016/17, it's the best upgrade to a capital expenditure outlook in six years.

Royal Bank of Canada chief economist Su-Lin Ong said the main drag was from mining, but non-mining investment was firmer and heading in the right direction, albeit slowly.

"Granted, the outlook remains subdued and the improvement more glacial than desired, but it appears to be moving in the right direction," she said.

National Australia Bank market economist Tapas Strickland said, while overall capital expenditure fell 5.4 per cent in the June quarter, non-mining investment rose by 2.0 per cent.

He said the Reserve Bank would likely interpret the results positively as it had been watching for a pick-up in non-mining investment for quite some time, but that had not been picked up in the capex survey until now.

"Today's data will no doubt confirm their belief, and could add a degree of optimism and is an additional piece of data suggesting the non-mining economy is picking up," Mr Strickland said in a note.

Ms Ong also noted the survey was taken amid uncertainty in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the federal election, which delivered a coalition government with a substantially reduced majority and larger senate crossbench.

"This is likely to have had some bearing on respondents and may have tempered the results somewhat," she noted.

"It is, accordingly, possible that spending plans are a little firmer than the official responses in this survey."

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