The trade surplus expanded to A$970 million ($628 million) from a revised A$414 million in December, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today.
Australia’s economy unexpectedly shrank in the fourth quarter for the first time in eight years, increasing pressure on the Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens to resume cutting interest rates. Stevens kept the benchmark on hold this week after slashing it by a record four percentage points between September and February to a 45-year low 3.25 percent.
Exports fell 5 percent to A$24.2 billion in January, today’s report showed. Agricultural shipments fell 3 and coal slumped 19 percent. Imports dropped 7 percent to A$23.3 billion. Auto imports tumbled 14 percent.
Australia’s economy shrank 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, a report showed yesterday.
Commodity exports from Australia, the world’s biggest shipper of iron ore, coal and wool, are forecast to decline in fiscal 2010 for the first time in six years, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said this week.
Sales may drop 17 percent from a record to A$162 billion in the 12 months ending June 30, 2010, the bureau said.
The three biggest buyers of Australian exports are Japan, China and the U.S.
Demand for Australian iron ore is falling after China’s exports slumped 17.5 percent in January, the most in almost 13 years, a report said last week.
The slump in worldwide demand for Australian resources will probably trigger a 20 percent drop this year in the nation’s terms of trade, a measure of income from exports, Edey said.