Business investment hits an all time low

Business investment fell 9.2 per cent to 31.4 billion in the September quarter, the lowest quarterly amount of investment since early 2011.

Business investment has suffered its biggest quarterly fall in the 28-year history of the official survey.

And while business investment is at a four and half year low, the good news is that the outlook isn't getting any worse.

Australian business investment fell by 9.2 per cent to $31.4 billion in the September quarter, the lowest quarterly amount of investment since the March quarter of 2011.

The quarterly fall was the largest in the history of the survey, which started in 1987.

Investment intentions for 2015/16 are 20.9 per cent lower than the corresponding estimate made for 2014/15, the main contributor to the decrease is mining, the ABS said.

However the good news is that businesses collectively expect to spend $120.4 billion in the 2015/16 financial year, which is four per cent higher than the estimate made three months ago.

JP Morgan chief economist Stephen Walters said the September quarter investment figures will be a drag on next week's economic growth data.

He's revised down his forecast for September quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 0.6 per cent, from 0.8 per cent.

"The mining capex is plunging, that's not a surprise but there's just not enough lift in those other bits of the economy," he said.

"I think it's optimistic to think that manufacturing would be providing much lift here given what's happening with carmakers and steelmakers and the like.

Mr Walters said it is up to the services part of the economy to start spending more.

"It's happening but it is a very slow rotation," he said.

ANZ economist Daniel Gradwell said the non-mining parts of the economy are failing to pick up the slack left by the end of the mining boom.

"Above average non-mining business conditions and profitability are not resulting in these firms wanting to invest more," he said.

"But they are hiring, particularly in the services sector."

Mr Gradwell said that's why he believes the RBA has become a bit more comfortable with the weak non-mining business investment outlook.

"Our view remains, however, that the strong jobs growth will eventually soften amid less support from the lower Australian dollar."

UBS economist George Tharenou said next week's GDP growth figure will still be a solid 0.8 per cent, despite the fall off the capex cliff.

"A period of ongoing record low interest rates and sustained Australian dollar depreciation ahead seems likely to be needed to help support demand," he said.

"For the third quarter real GDP, capex will be a very large drag on growth, but net exports are likely to make such a huge contribution."

Source AAP

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