© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A shift worker at the Alcoa aluminium smelter leaves the plant during a 12-hour shift change before sunrise at Point Henry in Geelong February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian business investment rose strongly in the March quarter, helped by a jump in spending on mining, manufacturing and transport, while firms remained upbeat about spending for the year ahead.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed private capital spending climbed a real 2.4% in the first quarter from the previous quarter, compared with a 2.2% gain in December quarter.

Spending on new equipment and machinery rose 3.7% in the first three months of the year, the largest quarterly growth in two years.

Firms also lifted spending plans for the fiscal year to June 2024 to A$137.6 billion, up 6.4% on the previous quarter.

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