Pandemic-level progress charges spotlight financial ills


A forward-looking indicator of financial progress has sunk to its lowest stage because the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute main index returned its tenth adverse end in a row in June.

The six-month annualised progress charge within the index, which indicators the doubtless tempo of financial exercise relative to pattern three to 9 months into the longer term, fell to adverse 1.09 per cent in Could from adverse 0.78 per cent in April.

Westpac Group chief economist Invoice Evans mentioned this was the bottom progress charge end result because the pandemic.

Mr Evans mentioned the adverse progress charges pointed to below-trend financial progress to come back, with the financial institution’s economists anticipating lacklustre exercise all through 2023 and into 2024.

Westpac has revised its 2023 progress forecasts all the way down to 0.6 per cent, decrease than the one per cent progress predicted earlier.

In 2024, the financial institution expects the financial system to develop by one per cent, down from 1.5 per cent.

“This weak spot within the financial system is centred across the client but in addition displays a slowing international financial system; a downturn in dwelling development; and a progressive weakening within the labour market,” Mr Evans mentioned.

Six of the eight elements pulled the index down, with the yield unfold producing the most important subtraction over the month.

Rising rates of interest and value of dwelling pressures have additionally been weighing on customers.

Not solely have customers been holding again on nice-to-haves, however spending on necessities has additionally eased based mostly on Visa transaction knowledge.

The agency’s spending momentum index sunk 0.9 factors to hit 98.8 in Could, reversing an enchancment over the month earlier than.

All spending classes at the moment are in contractionary territory – that’s, beneath 100 per cent – apart from non-discretionary, or necessities.

These patterns are more likely to proceed as rising rates of interest and red-hot inflation flip folks away from eating places and different non-essential spending in favour of cheaper options similar to consuming in.

At 101.5 index factors, non-discretionary spending stays in expansive territory however it did fall 0.7 factors over the month.

Discretionary spending contracted an extra 0.2 factors to 97.5.

The index additionally revealed a slowdown in spending in eating places and gasoline.