Trade surplus grows on mining, weak demand

Australia's trade surplus widened to $5.8 billion in November, with the 42 per cent increase fuelled by higher mining exports and a likely weakening of domestic demand.

The $1.73 billion monthly increase trumped consensus expectations of a $4.1 billion surplus, with metal ores and mineral fuels exports helping lift the figure from a downwardly revised $4.075 billion a month earlier.

Westpac economist Andrew Hanlan noted the surplus remained in a trend decline from June, when it hit a record high of $7.9 billion on a temporary spike in the iron ore price.

Mr Hanlan did however, say the decline in real net exports over the December quarter would have a "broadly neutral" impact on fourth quarter GDP.

"The November result act(s) to reduce downside risks to that view," Mr Hanlan said.

Exports for the month rose by a seasonally adjusted 2.0 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures on Thursday, even as non-monetary gold exports fell by 6.0 per cent, or $120 million.

Total imports for the month fell by 3.0 per cent, in what AMP senior economist Shane Oliver said likely indicated weaker domestic demand.

In seasonally adjusted terms, exports of rural goods edged higher by $9 million to $4.08 billion, with meat and meat preparations up by 6.0 per cent or $83 million.

The Australian dollar edged higher against the US dollar in the moments after the release of Thursday's data, lifting from 68.73 US cents to 68.78 US cents.

The dollar dropped back to 68.69 US cents by 1220 AEDT.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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