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Australia Cuts 2010-11 Commodity Export Sales Outlook

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Australia, the largest shipper of coal, iron ore and wool, cut its forecast for commodity exports this fiscal year on poor crop weather and a reduction in forecast growth of gold, iron ore and coking coal shipments.

Sales may be A$211.1 billion ($210.3 billion) in the year ending June 30, 2011, the Canberra-based Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences said today in an e-mailed statement. The forecast, which would still be a record, compares with its September estimate of A$214.9 billion and a revised A$171.1 billion for the previous year.

Wet weather may cut as much as 60 percent of the wheat crop in three states to feed quality this season, according to an estimate by Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., while the rain has also disrupted coal production. Drought has also cut grain output in export-focused Western Australia.

“Despite the lower forecast, the value of commodity exports in 2010-2011 is still expected to be a record,” Paul Morris, acting executive director of the commodity forecasting bureau, said in a statement.

Earnings from energy and mineral exports are expected to reach A$177.4 billion, compared with a September forecast of A$179.9 billion and A$139.1 billion a year earlier.

The value of farm exports is forecast at A$30.2 billion, down A$1.2 billion from the September outlook and compared with A$28.5 billion a year earlier, according to the report. The gross value of wheat production at the farm gate is forecast to be around A$5.7 billion compared with the forecast of A$6.7 billion in September, according to a statement.

Grain Quality

“In addition to expected lower production and export volumes from Western Australia, these downward revisions reflect the impact on grain quality of untimely rain on the wheat crop in the eastern states,” Morris said.

Commodities measured by the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials advanced to the highest level in more than two years this month.

“Forecast increases in export shipments and higher prices for Australian iron ore and coal remain as large contributors to the expected sharp increase in mineral resources exports in 2010-2011 as compared to the previous year,” Morris said. A strong export performance was also expected for gold, oil, copper and alumina, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wendy Pugh in Melbourne wpugh@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@Bloomberg.net.

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