Gold Exports Drove The Huge Rise In Australia’s Trade Surplus


Australia’s trade data for January is out and printed a surplus of $1.433 billion – more than 5 times the market expectation of a $270 million surplus. The ABS said that this is a 142% increase on the surplus recorded in December.

The data looks solid across the board but the huge 44% or $425 million increase in non-monetary gold exports is a stand-out feature of this result. Equally the 27% or $95 million fall in non-monetary gold imports is an additional positive for the trade balance.

Rural goods rose 5% to $3.802 billion with meat and meat preparations up 11%. Non rural goods were up 3% to $19.866 billion.

The ABS only provides limited commodity quantity and unit value analysis and only in original terms, but it is clear that from theses that iron ore volume has fallen 16% in lump and 10% in fines, while prices are only up 4% and 2% respectively. Looking at coal, hard coking managed to rise 2% in quantity and 3% in price but semi-soft and thermal saw declines in volume of 14% and 20% respectively.

On the import side of the ledger goods and services debits rose 1% to $28.327 billion with an 8% lift in merchandise goods but capital goods fell 9%.