Thursday, August 05, 2010

Our trade surplus goes into the stratosphere... and I thought miners were living hand-to-mouth

(The miners have shut down Keep Mining Strong, but apparently it was touch and go - no bonanza to be shared)

A surge in mining income has driven Australia's trade surplus to an all-time high, beating the previous record by more $1 billion.

Australia's exports exceeded imports by an unprecedented $3.5 billion in June, more than at any time in the 40 years such records have been kept.

Exports surged 7 per cent propelled an extraordinary 11 per cent jump in mining income in a month when imports barely moved.

Exports to China jumped 7.7 per cent, exports to Japan 5.1 per cent and exports to India 13.2 per cent.

The 7 per cent jump in June follows a 13 per cent jump in April and a 6 per cent jump in May.

Australia's export income is up 42 per cent in three months with further gains in store as newly negotiated 23 per cent increases in iron ore prices and 15 per cent increases in coal prices flow through.

As recently as March Australia was recorded its eleventh straight trade deficit.

So big is the turnaround that Australia's export income is set to all but eclipse the billions of dollars that flow out of the country each month in dividends and interest payments.

Economists at the Royal Bank of Scotland say Australia's current account deficit is on track to shrink to less than 2 per cent of GDP, a result not bettered since 2001.

"We have smashed more records than at an Aussie swimming meet"... said Commonwealth Securities economist Craig James. "We are once again paying our way in the word and income is flowing into the country."

"The big question is what will happen to it. More than likely mining companies will plow it back into expanding their operations."

As the figures were released mining giant Rio Tinto announced a further $866 million investment to expand its iron ore operations in the Western Australian Pilbara.

The price increases were bolstered by volume increases which pushed up the amount of coking coal sold 15 per cent and the volume of iron ore sold 10 per cent.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said it was a "very good" outcome but Opposition leader Tony Abbott used it as an opportunity to attack the planned minerals resource rent tax.

"The whole point is that the tax will damage future investment, it will damage future jobs, it will damage the economic future of our country," he said.

"I accept, as everyone does, that our current prosperity to the extent that it exists is largely based on the success of the mining and resources sector. That’s why it is the very mid summer of madness to clobber this successful industry with a great big new tax, that even in its revised form," he told reporters in Brisbane.

"If there is one single policy decision which completely destroys Labor's economic credentials, it's this."

The Australian dollar jumped to 91.30 US cents on the news, up from a close of 90.70 Tuesday.

"Mining boom Mark II is well and truly in play," said Deutsche Bank economist Adam Boyton. "It's going to have a powerful effect, flowing through to income, demand and imports."

Meantime the Commonwealth Bank Australian Chamber and Commerce and Industry business expectations survey was weak, with most components slipping further in the June quarter.

"Mainstream businesses are still facing a challenging environment," said ACCI director of economics Greg Evans.

Published in today's SMH and Age

Oh, and here's the ABS attempt to draw a "trend": Funny, eh.

Related Posts

. Wednesday column: The deal didn't end sovereign risk, it brought it on

. Mining export earnings are beginning to roll (whatever the industry says)

. A beautiful graph - our asking prices are turning up

. Just because it looks like a "trend line" doesn't mean...