Australia’s economy raced ahead last quarter as consumers and businesses spent with abandon, lifting output back above where it was last year when pandemic lockdowns tipped the country into its first recession in three decades, Reuters reported. The economy expanded by a real 1.8% in the three months to March, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday. The solid back-to-back quarterly growth helped annual output climb 1.1% to A$525.7 billion ($408.05 billion), a major turnaround from last year's recession low of $468.3 billion. The better-than-forecast figures pushed Australia's benchmark share index to record highs while supporting the local dollar near a one-week top. Australia announced strict social distancing rules in late-March 2020 to curb the coronavirus pandemic, forcing businesses from retailers to cafes and restaurants to down shutters while leading hundreds of thousands to queue up for welfare payments. But the A$2 trillion economy has since staged a remarkable comeback by keeping virus numbers in check which has allowed businesses to reopen with confidence. Hefty and timely monetary and fiscal stimulus have been beneficial too. Read more.