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Australia posts 'surprising' trade deficit

Tuesday 5th April 2011

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Australia has posted its first trade deficit in almost a year with a result in February that has surprised economists.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday that the Australian trade balance in February was a deficit of $205 (NZ$276.54) million, seasonally adjusted, from a downwardly revised surplus of $1.433 billion in January.

Economists' forecasts had been for a surplus of $1.1 billion in the month.

"It's a bit of surprise with the first deficit in nearly one year," St George Bank chief economist Besa Deda said.

The last time Australia posted a trade deficit was in March 2010, she said.

"We've been recording very large trade surpluses for some time and we did think that surpluses would narrow in coming months, but we weren't predicting the deficit."

Flooding in Queensland may have caused considerable volatility in the export numbers, Deda said.

"In January, coking coal and thermal coal exports were down... and I imagine volatility on that front (is) probably affecting the trade result."



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