Good news on the data front with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releasing data for February showing the trade balance was above $1 billion for the second month in a row and positive for the third month in a row.
That’s important as it suggests that having been a drag on growth for the previous 23 months trade balances are a positive contributor once again.
Coming in at +$1.2 billion the surplus was $192 million lower than January in seasonally adjusted terms but significantly bigger than the $850 million the market expected. Indeed earlier this week some forecasters were actually predicting that we might have slipped into deficit during February.
The key driver of the pick up and surprise result were non-rural goods with the ABS saying they rose $420m in seasonally adjusted terms, driven by and increase in other mineral fuels which rose $9% or $232 million on the month and a 6% increase in coal, coke and briquettes which were up $208m.
It is really dangerous to mix original and seasonally adjusted data but the thing that jumps out is the fall in iron ore and coking coal exports to China which just might suggest that the slowdown is starting to hit Australia’s trade with China.
It’s too early to tell yet so in the meantime we’ll celebrate the net positive this data provides Australia’s GDP growth rate.