Retail sales continue to grow as trade deficit narrows

Australian retailers have continued their recent solid performance, with sales increasing 0.4 per cent in September.

The seasonally adjusted result was in line with expectations and follows another 0.4 per cent rebound in August after sales fell in July.

However, on an annualised basis sales growth slipped back marginally to 3.6 per cent.

AMP Capital’s Shane Oliver said the figures showed consumer spending was continuing to make an OK, but not a strong, contribution to September quarter GDP growth.

Spending on household goods rose 1 per cent with electrical equipment up 2.2 per cent.

Department stores continued to suffer with sales on a seasonally adjusted basis down 2 per cent.

While sales were up in most states and territories, falls were recorded in Queensland and the ACT.

Dr Oliver also noted the AIG services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey fell back to contractionary levels below 50 points in October after running above it for a few months.

“This follows a fall-back in the manufacturing PMI for October and suggests that a pick-up in business conditions and confidence may have faded a bit in the last month,” Dr Oliver said.

Trade deficit narrows

Australia’s international trade performance beat expectations, with the deficit narrowing to $2.3 billion in September from $2.7 billion in August.

However it is the 18th consecutive month of deficits.

Embed: International trade from January 2000 to August 2015

In seasonally adjusted terms, the value exports rose $901 million – or 3 per cent – while imports also rose, up 2 per cent or $507 million.

The notoriously volatile performance of gold exports helped the overall performance, up 10 per cent or $135 million for the month.

Iron ore and mineral exports rose 8 per cent, while coal exports continued their slide down 9 per cent.

Rural exports were up 1 per cent, with cereals leading the way with a 2 per cent increase in the value of sales.

Citi economist Paul Brennan said the narrowing of the deficit may only be temporary as it was helped in part by a temporary halt in the fall of the price of iron ore.

Citi factored in steady volumes for iron ore and coal exports but expects further price declines in coming months.

“We believe the September contraction in the trade deficit was only temporary, and a retracement to around $3 billion is likely for October, unless imports soften,” Mr Brennan said.

However, ANZ’s Justin Fabo said the trade deficit was likely to slowly narrow over 2016 and 2017 for a number of reasons.

“The lower Australian dollar, LNG exports will ramp up sharply, lower capital imports amid falling mining investment and commodity prices are expected to be broadly stable,” Mr Fabo said were all factors that help cut the deficit.

Source: ABC News