Falling coal exports sink trade surplus

COMMODITIES carnage and an 11% dive in coal exports have largely pulled down Australia’s seasonally adjusted trade surplus by 40% in December to $A589 million, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Falling coal exports sink trade surplus Falling coal exports sink trade surplus Falling coal exports sink trade surplus Falling coal exports sink trade surplus Falling coal exports sink trade surplus

 

Blair Price

The ABS said the fall in the trade surplus was primarily due to the strong fall in the non-rural goods sector with coal, coke and briquettes exports being the main factor, falling $679 million from November to $5.485 billion.

Falling energy prices aside from coal had the ABS’s other mineral fuels category slicing off $194 million of December’s export dollars in a 9% decline, while the metals component (excluding gold) had the next biggest dive in dollar terms of $134 million, 11% lower than November.

Specifically the ABS said in original terms, metallurgical coal exports decreased 16% for the month with prices down 4% and volumes down 13%.

The bureau said non-agglomerated iron ore exports actually increased 22% in December from a 25% increase in volumes despite a 2% fall in prices.

Coal represented some 26% of Australia’s export dollars for December while metal ores and minerals accounted for 20.84%.

With the new Japanese financial year approaching in April, various analysts have forecast coking coal contract prices to fall as much as 60% and thermal coal to fall as much as 40%.

Meanwhile, ANZ economist Alex Joiner told Australian Associated Press Australia’s trade balance could return to a deficit in possibly two or three months from the reduced demand in commodity exports.

The ABS noted increases in other non-rural sectors and in transport equipment exports partly offset the December fall in the trade surplus.

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