Australian dollar below 70 US cents Courtesy: ABC News

Australian dollar below 70 US cents Courtesy: ABC News

Official figures have confirmed a sharp decline in economic growth, driving the Australian dollar decisively below 70 US cents for the first time in six years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.2 per cent in the three months to June, the weakest rate of economic growth since the March quarter of 2013.

Today’s figures are a sharp deterioration from the 0.9 per cent growth recorded in the March quarter and also significantly worse than the 0.4 per cent growth economists had expected.

The ABS said reduced mining and construction activity weighed on growth, along with declining exports.

Along with the first quarter GDP in 2013, it was the weakest growth since early 2011, which was affected by the severe floods in Queensland, and the equal second weakest since the Global Financial Crisis-affected contraction in December 2008.

In nominal terms — with the effects of inflation excluded — GDP growth was 1.8 per cent, the weakest figure since 1962.

Mining production slipped 3 per cent in the latest quarter, while net exports detracted 0.6 per cent from GDP growth.

The Australian dollar twice dipped briefly below 70 US cents in the hours before the data was released, but fell to 69.86 US cents immediately after the ABS data was published.

It was the first time the currency had fallen to that level since 2009.