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Does Australia’s economic numbers mean it’s time to buy ASX shares?

Today we learned of Australia’s FY19 budget numbers and unemployment rate – do they indicate it’s time to invest in ASX shares?

On the federal budget side of things, the FY19 year showed an underlying cash deficit of just $690 million. For most businesses a ‘loss’ of $690 million would be terrible, but for a large economy it’s essentially no deficit at all.

I’ll let you decide whether it’s down to good economic management or lucky resource prices, but nonetheless it’s a good position to be in, particularly as five months ago it was expected to be a $4.2 billion deficit.

But on the employment side of things, we saw the unemployment rate tick upwards to 5.3%. This increase came despite employment rising by 34,700 people. But that’s a combined figure, full-time employment decreased by 15,500 while part-time employment increased by 50,200. Unemployment increased by 4,100 to 716,800 people.

A strong federal budget doesn’t entirely apply to us unless it’s used to help us directly or indirectly in some way. The increased tax refunds are one element and the growing amount of infrastructure spending is another. The RBA and other economists have been encouraging the government to do some more spending to lift the economy. 

Obviously, we want the Australian budget to be in a good position, but businesses and households also need to be in good positions. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) is seeing a bit of a rise in personal loan arrears. But earlier today we heard that Brickworks Limited (ASX: BKW) expects a strengthening housing market in the second half of its FY20.

The economy is certainly not firing on all guns, that’s why the RBA has been cutting interest rates and another cut could be more likely soon because of the slightly higher unemployment rate.

But things look better than they did at the start of the year for the housing market, for bank lending, for construction for a US-China trade resolution and, in my opinion, for (largely domestic) ASX shares as a whole.

Foolish takeaway

When you look at some of the good quality ASX names like Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB), Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd (ASX: SOL), Brickworks, Appen Ltd (ASX: APX) and InvoCare Limited (ASX: IVC), there are names that could provide plenty of growth opportunities at good prices.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison owns shares of InvoCare Limited and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Appen Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Brickworks, InvoCare Limited, and Webjet Ltd. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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