Australia’s trade deficit improved to $2.3 billion for the month of September, in seasonally adjusted terms, despite Western Australia’s export performance being softer than the same time last year.The national figure was a dramatic improvement on the record low of $3.9 billion in April this year, and was ahead of market forecasts of $2.9 billion.Western Australian merchandise exports were up 3.8 per cent on August at $9 billion, although that was still down more than 11 per cent on the same month last year.It meant the rolling 12 month total for WA exports was also lower, at $107.2 billion, compared to $128.9 billion for the 12 months to September 2014.WA merchandise exports to China for the month were up almost 11 per cent on the same time last year, while Japan was 44 per cent lower.Commonwealth Bank of Australia economist Diana Mousina said that nationally, goods exports had had the largest monthly jump since early 2014.“A 7.9 per cent surge in iron ore exports drove the (monthly) outcome thanks to a pick‑up in iron ore prices,” Ms Mousina said . “Iron ore export volumes also remain at high levels.“Metal exports (excluding gold) also recorded a 31 per cent lift over September (but from a lower base). “Rural exports were 1.1 per cent higher over September.”Month on Month, Western Australian imports increased about 29 per cent to $3.1 billion, roughly unchanged from this time last year.That is an indication that state spending may have been through its worst period and could now recover.Pilbara fall for OctoberMeanwhile, the latest figures from the Pilbara Ports Authority suggests export volumes could soften for the next round of trade data, for October, which will be released next month..Port Hedland port hit a throughput for October of 37.1 million tonnes, 3 per cent lower than the same time in 2014, while Dampier was unchanged at 15.2mt.The fall at Port Hedland was driven by iron ore exports, which totalled 36.5 million tonnes in October, also down 3 per cent compared to the same month in 2014.October’s dip is the first decrease in iron ore exports following months of continuous growth and record breaking outputs, during a major and prolonged slump in the commodity’s price.The port of Port Hedland recorded 39.9mt in iron ore exports in both September and August this year, up 8 per cent on September 2014 figures and 5 per cent higher than August 2014 figures.Over the course of the 2014-15 financial year, the port achieved record iron ore exports, at 439.6mt, up 75.2mt on the previous year, or an increase of 21 per cent.
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