Although the market consensus is for a negative GDP print in the first quarter, some economists believe it’s still a close call.

“While construction work done fell in the first quarter, the underlying components reflected a rise in private engineering and non-residential building work.”
Mr Morriss also noted that a sharp increase in resources exports might have offset the weakness in services. A small increase in consumption through household spending before the lockdowns in March may also have been enough to support the economy.
Deutsche Bank economist Phil Odonaghoe said while there was no doubt Australia was “in recession”, he was expecting the economy would avoid a technical recession.
There’s often been cases where a negative looked likely and then something else comes along and pushes it up.
Shane Oliver, AMP Capital chief economist
“Business investment partials released [last week] were soft, but have actually have held up better than we expected,” he said.
“Despite a weaker outcome on dwelling investment, and ahead of key partials due next week, that leaves our Q1 GDP forecast sitting at 0.1 per cent.
“The net of all that means, potentially, just one negative quarter of growth in 2020.”
According to Bloomberg, the consensus forecast for Wednesday’s GDP is a 0.4 per cent contraction.
Although the majority of economists forecast a small contraction as their base case, many acknowledge that a positive result is possible.
“The most likely outcome is a small negative, but I’ve seen enough of these to know we still get it wrong and there are a lot of things we don’t have much visibility on,” said AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver.
“There’s often been cases where a negative looked likely and then something else comes along and pushes it up.”
The bar to avoiding the technical recession tag is pretty low. Even a flat print on Wednesday would be sufficient to avoid the label.
Australia last recorded a technical recession in 1991.
While there is potential for the country to continue its record run of economic growth, the label does little to ease the underlying problems being felt during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is possible that GDP may have expanded in the first quarter,” said ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank.
“While some will no doubt claim this means Australias uninterrupted run of no recession since the early 1990s continues, the fact that close to 20 per cent of the population is unemployed or underemployed demonstrates how little substance there is in the so-called technical recession of two negative quarters in a row.”