Australia's Construction Sector Shrinks for Fifteenth Month in May

Australia’s AiG Construction PMI rose to 46.9 in May from 36.5 in April. The reading below the 50 “boom-bust” level reveals that the sector contracted for the fifteenth consecutive month, albeit at the slowest pace in over a year. Builders have seen demand begin to stabilize after the government tripled its grants to first-time home buyers to A$21,000. Perhaps most notably, the wages component of the metric expanded for the second consecutive month, rising from 50.6 to 55.0. Higher wages are supportive of consumption, the largest component of overall economic growth, offering a bit of hope that the private-sector demand will support the economy after the government’s boost is exhausted. Australian GDP unexpectedly expanded in the first quarter but details of the report suggested that much of the result was owed to aggressive fiscal stimulus, raising concerns about the sustainability of such performance in the months ahead.