Australia Posts 1Q Current Account Deficit

By James Glynn Features Dow Jones Newswires

Australia posted a current account deficit in the first quarter, falling well short of the expectations of some economists for a surplus, the first since 1975.

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The current account deficit narrowed to a seasonally adjusted A$3.11 billion in the first quarter from A$3.51 billion in the prior three months, the Australia Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday.

Economists had expected a current account deficit of A$500 million in the quarter.

The surplus on goods and services narrowed sharply to A$543 million over the quarter from A$3.51 billion, and is expected to subtract 0.7 percentage points from gross domestic product growth.

Exports of non-farm goods, including iron ore and coking coal, rose by 12% in value over the quarter but volumes were down by 4% overall. The period covered a major cyclone that buffeted eastern Australia and led to some mines halting production temporarily and damaged rail lines.

GDP will be reported on Wednesday. Economists expect weak growth or maybe none at all, with rising inventories and company profits offset by slack consumer spending, a slowdown in building construction and falling mining investment

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Australia's net foreign debt fell by 1.0% in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of last year, the ABS said.

Write to James Glynn at james.glynn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 05, 2017 21:52 ET (01:52 GMT)