Iron Ore, Coal Help Trade Surplus Top $8bn In June

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Australia’s trade performance hit record levels in 2018-19, none more so than the surplus which hit an all-time high of record $50 billion.

That was as the surplus for June topped an all-time high of $8 billion, according to the latest trade data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The June year’s surplus of $50.301 billion more than 4.3 times the $11.67 billion surplus in 2017-18.

The value of exports rose a record $474.33 billion in the 12 months to June, up around 13% from the 2017-18 figure.

The June record of $8.04 billion topped the previous high in May of 6.173 billion and was driven by the surge in iron ore prices last month and improved contributions from coal shipments.

Exports climbed by 1% to $42.38 billion – also a record high -in the month while imports slumped 4% to $34.34 billion over the same period.

The surge shipments of metal ores and minerals (iron ore) which jumped by $554 million from a month earlier. Coal exports were also up to $232 million from May.

In contrast, exports of other mineral fuels (LNG) fell by $401 million over the month as the price boom in that commodity in the Asian Basin continues to weaken.

On the other side of the report, the ABS said fuel imports slipped by $367 million, reflecting the decline in global crude oil prices. Civil aircraft imports also fell by $307 million.

“Export earnings have been boosted by higher commodity prices, while import volumes are soft at a time of weak domestic demand and with the lower dollar making imports more expensive,” Westpac’s Andrew Hanlan said in a note on Tuesday.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Tuesday shows the national trade surplus is now at a record $8 billion, with exports climbing one percent from May to June.

“Export earnings have been boosted by higher commodity prices, while import volumes are soft at a time of weak domestic demand and with the lower dollar making imports more expensive,” Westpac’s Andrew Hanlan said in a note on Tuesday.

The value of exports of rural goods fell 4.3%, thanks to the impact of the drought with the value of cereal shipments plunged 35.7% as wheat, barley and other gain shipments slumped. Meat exports rose 8% thanks to continuing price boom in the US in particular.

The value of gold imports jumped 27.6% (because of the surge in gold prices in the month which has continued into August) while capital goods including machinery and industrial equipment imports fell 8.7% and consumption goods, including items such as electrical gadgets and toys, fell 5.1% reflecting the weak retail conditions.

But other data from the ABS showed the number of new housing approvals dropped 1.3% in June from May, and were down more than 20% from June 2018.

There were 14,501 new dwellings approved nationwide in June, with apartment numbers dropping 29% compared to the same month last year.

The fall isn’t surprising with building approvals in June falling sharply as well.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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