Trade surplus narrows to $1.6b as exports dip and imports rise


September 06, 2018 12:32:57

Even a 20 per cent narrowing of Australia’s trade surplus was not enough to take much gloss of another strong month of exports.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the surplus in July fell to $1.55 billion from $1.9 billion in June.

The value of exports dropped by 1 per cent, or $362 million, from June’s record $36.4 billion effort.

At the same time, higher fuels costs nudged up imports by 1 per cent to $34.6 billion.

LNG shipments rose by 19 per cent, although prices fell 4 per cent. The net result was a 14 per cent, or $464 million, increase in the value of LNG exports over the month.

The value of iron ore shipments fell due to lower volumes — down 12 per cent for high quality “fines” — while prices were stronger.

Coal was a mixed bag, with volumes of coking coal (used in steel-making) down 9 per cent on fairly flat prices, while thermal coal (used in power generation) volumes and prices rose strongly.

Rural exports were also softer, down 2 per cent, or $76 million, to $4 billion.

A slight increase in the value of meat exports failed to offset sharp declines in cereal grains (-11 per cent) and wool (-8 per cent).

More to come.





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