Spending rises - slowly

SPENDING across the nation's economy continued to rise in August, but at the slowest rate in nearly a year, new data shows.

The data, from Commonwealth Bank's BusinessSales Indicator, showed spending rose 0.3% in August, after growth of 0.4% in July and 0.6% in June.

While growth continued in the measure of credit and debit card transactions, it was the slowest rate in 11 months.

The news came as the Australian dollar also rocketed US1.5 cents to US95 cents in the biggest jump in a single day in two years.

Driven by the United States' decision to continue printing money to avoid recession, the jump also dampens hope Australian exports would help drag the nation's budget out of the doldrums.

But CommSec chief economist Craig James said the latest indicators should be seen in the context of other positive signs in the wider Australian economy.

"Although the latest figures show consumers are still wary about opening their wallets, the broader economic climate gives few reasons for people to be glum, with consumer confidence up post-election while both interest rates and unemployment remain at historically-low levels," he said.

"Looking ahead, we expect to see a pick-up in spending over the medium term now that the federal election is behind us.

"Spending will be spurred on by the low interest rate environment, healthy house prices, new housing developments across the major capital cities and stronger share markets."

The CommBank BSI also showed the strongest sales in August were in the amusement and entertainment sector, up 6.5% over the month, after a 6% rise in July.

Other top-performing sectors included wholesale distributors and manufacturers, with business spending up 2% in that sector for August, and a 1.3% rise in spending on vehicles.

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