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Australia trade balance grows slightly less than expected in Jan

Published 07/03/2024, 11:46 am
© Reuters.
- Australia’s trade balance grew slightly less than expected in January, as growth in the country’s exports cooled amid slowing demand for its biggest commodity shipments, while imports remained steady. 

The trade balance grew to a surplus of A$11.03 billion ($7.2 billion), data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed on Thursday. The figure was slightly below expectations for a surplus of A$11.42 billion, but increased from a revised A$10.74 billion surplus seen in December. 

The higher trade balance was driven chiefly by a 1.6% month-on-month increase in exports through January, to A$47.51 billion. 

But exports of non-rural goods, which include metal ores, coal and mineral fuels, fell 0.5% during the month. 

Strong exports, especially of metals and other commodities to Asia, have kept Australia’s trade surplus comfortably high in recent months. Strong export contribution also helped keep fourth-quarter gross domestic product in expansion territory.

But doubts over slowing export demand have risen in recent months, especially as China, Australia’s biggest market, grapples with a sluggish economic recovery. 

Weak imports also factored into a bigger trade surplus, as high interest rates and inflation kept local demand largely subdued. 

Imports grew 1.3% month-on-month in January, easing sharply from the 4.8% growth seen in the prior month. But they remained pinned around A$30 billion.

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