Australia Trade Surplus Narrows in April

By James Glynn Features Dow Jones Newswires

Australia posted a seasonally adjusted trade surplus of A$555 million in April, compared with a surplus of A$3.17 billion in March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.

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The figure is lower than analysts' expectations of a surplus of A$2.0 billion.

The value of exports fell by 8% in April, driven by a 45% drop in coal shipments due to flood damage to rail lines following a tropical cyclone that made landfall in the previous month. The value of imports fell by 1%, the ABS said.

Soaring prices of commodities such as iron ore have pushed the monthly trade surplus to record levels in recent months, helping to lift the economy more broadly.

However, prices of many commodities have begun to retreat, pointing to smaller surpluses or a return to deficits in coming months.

Australia's trade outlook is set to be positive overall as the country becomes the world's biggest export of liquefied natural gas, while China's ongoing economic expansion supports exports of iron ore, the country's biggest export.

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Australian is also experiencing rising demand for farm exports which hit a record high in the first quarter.

Cereal exports rose 23% in the quarter, according to data published Tuesday. Annual growth of farm exports is the strongest in eight years.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 07, 2017 21:50 ET (01:50 GMT)