Australia March Trade Surplus Widens


Australia’s trade surplus unexpectedly widened in March for a third month as imports fell and farm exports rose.

The trade surplus expanded to A$2.5 billion ($1.8 billion) from a revised A$1.75 billion in February, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. The median estimate of 19 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for A$1.7 billion.

The widening trade surplus from the world’s biggest shipper of coal and iron ore may help Australia’s economy emerge from its first recession in two decades sooner than many other nations. Central Governor Glenn Stevens left the benchmark lending rate at a 49-year low of 3 percent yesterday and said record cuts to borrowing costs and government spending will help fuel a recovery.

Imports fell 3 percent to A$22.1 billion. Imports of capital goods, such as machinery, dropped 12 percent.

Exports were little changed at A$24.6 billion in March, today’s report showed. Agricultural shipments rose 10 percent, while coal fell 5 percent.

While the near-term outlook for the global economy remains weak,” there are further signs of stabilization in several countries, Governor Stevens said yesterday.

China, Australia’s largest trading partner, shows positive signs” of recovery, Vice Finance Minister Li Yong said on May 3. The government will continue policies to restore growth following the economy’s 6.1 percent expansion in the first quarter, Li said.

A recovery in demand for natural resources will boost Australia’s economy, which unexpectedly shrank 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the first contraction in eight years.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
5/5/2009 10:48:48 PM