Australia Trade Deficit Widened in January on Lower Coal Exports

Australia’s trade deficit was twice as wide as economists had forecast in January as coal exports fell and telecommunications equipment imports rose.

Imports exceeded exports by A$1.06 billion ($1.08 billion), from a revised A$688 million deficit in December that was larger than originally reported, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 22 economists was for a deficit of A$500 million.

The data validate central bank Governor Glenn Stevens’s decision to reduce interest rates four times last year to 3 percent, matching a half-century low, as commodity prices eased. Policy makers are trying to revive demand outside of a resource boom that is predicted to crest this year as they seek to extend 21 recession-free years.

The result comes “on the back of higher imports and lower exports,” Kieran Davies, chief economist at Barclays Plc in Sydney who predicted a A$1 billion shortfall, said in a research report before today’s release.

The Australian dollar traded at $1.0224 at 11:38 a.m. in Sydney, from $1.0229 before the data were released.

Exports fell 1 percent to A$25 billion, led by a 5 percent drop in coal, coke and briquettes, today’s report showed. Imports advanced 1 percent to A$26.1 billion on a 52 percent surge in telecommunications equipment, the report showed.

Australia’s economy has been driven by demand from China for the nation’s iron ore, coal and natural gas. The nation’s unemployment rate, at 5.4 percent in January, is lower than 7.9 percent in the U.S.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at

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