Australia’s January Trade Deficit Narrows

Australia’s trade deficit narrowed in January to the smallest gap in seven months as exports of iron ore rose and imports of gasoline declined., Bloomberg 3/3/2010 11:40:56 PM

The shortfall shrank to A$1.18 billion ($1.07 billion) from a revised A$2.17 billion in December, the Bureau of Statistics said.

The strengthening trade balance adds to signs that demand from China for raw materials including iron ore and coal will stoke the nation’s economic expansion this year.

Exports increased 1 percent to A$20.1 billion in January from the previous month, today’s report showed. Shipments of raw materials including iron ore gained 7 percent.

Imports fell 3 percent to A$21.3 billion. Gasoline and oil imports declined 25 percent. Shipments from overseas of consumer goods including clothing, textiles and footwear rose 2 percent.

Commodity exports may jump next fiscal year by 15 percent to A$187 billion, the second-highest level on record, the Canberra-based Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said.

Australia’s economy grew last quarter at the fastest pace in almost two years, expanding 0.9 percent from the three months through September, when it increased 0.3 percent, a report showed yesterday.

Signs of economic recovery, including higher business and consumer confidence, plus falling unemployment, were key reasons Stevens raised the benchmark lending rate on March 2 to 4 percent, and signaled further increases in coming months.

Australia’s January Trade Deficit Narrows