Australian Exports Jump Most in 11 Months

Australian exports rose in September by the most in almost a year, underpinning an economic rebound that prompted central bank Governor Glenn Stevens to lead the world in raising interest rates.

Exports jumped 5 percent from August, driven by increased shipments of coal and gold, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. The gain helped offset rising imports that widened the trade deficit to A$1.85 billion (A$1.68 billion), less than the A$2.15 billion estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group boosted iron ore production to a record in the third quarter to satisfy rebounding Chinese demand for steel.

Exports rose to A$20.2 billion in September, the biggest increase since October 2008, today’s report showed. Coal shipments gained 9 percent from August.

Gold exports surged 64 percent. Demand from investors seeking the precious metal as an alternative asset pushed up prices for immediate delivery to a record high of A$1,097.72 an ounce yesterday.

Australian resources exporters are also benefiting from a rebound in China’s economy, which Governor Stevens this week described as very strong.”

Rio Tinto, the world’s third-largest mining company, said last month that iron-ore production climbed 12 percent to a record 47.5 million metric tons in the three months to Sept. 30. BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner, said its production of the steel making material also rose to a record.

Brisbane-based Macarthur Coal Ltd., the world’s biggest exporter of pulverized coal, last month reported a 22 percent gain in September quarter sales after demand from steelmakers rebounded.

Today’s report also showed imports rose 5 percent to A$22.1 billion in September, driven by a 2 percent increase in consumer goods shipments. Fuel imports surged 71 percent.

Higher imports add to evidence that Australia’s economy is growing faster and generating more jobs than Treasurer Wayne Swan and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd forecast six months ago, helped by A$20 billion in government cash handouts to consumers and Stevens’s record interest-rate cuts between September 2008 and April, when he slashed the benchmark rate by 4.25 percentage points to a half-century low of 3 percent.

Australian Exports Jump Most in 11 Months, Bloomberg
11/5/2009 9:10:49 AM