RTTNews - The rate of Australia's economic contraction slowed in May, according to survey results released Wednesday by Westpac Bank and the Melbourne Institute.

The leading index remained negative for an eighth straight month.

Australia's leading economic index for May showed economic contraction at an annual rate of 3.9 percent, compared to a revised on-year contraction of 4.1 percent in April.

The index is a barometer of economic activity for the coming three to nine months.

The coincident index, which measures current economic activity, contracted at an annualized rate of 0.1 percent, also slower than the 0.5 percent annualized contraction for April.

Westpac Chief Economist Bill Evans noted that the leading index remained well below its long-term trend of 2.6 percent contraction.

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