Australia has posted its third monthly trade surplus, helped by a strong rise in mining exports.
The trade surplus was $1.2 billion in February, following a surplus of $1.392 billion in January, and $469 million in December.
RBC Capital Markets currency strategist Michael Turner said the trade figures were surprisingly good, especially mining exports.
“Unlike previous months, the source of the surprise was in coal, which rose six per cent in value terms despite ongoing softness in spot prices,” he said.
“Other mineral fuels were also up nine per cent, which more than accounted for falls in gold and rural goods exports.
“On the import side, the jump in capital goods serves as some reminder that investment has not fallen off a cliff.
“A drop in fuel imports provided some offset.”
Mr Turner expects mining and resource exports to continue to strengthen as more projects go into production, after record levels of investment in the sector.
“The outlook for the trade balance has been well documented: persistent surpluses as mining production picks up and investment slows,” he said.
“If anything, recent trends underscore just how much contribution net exports will likely make (to economic growth) this year.”
JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said it was the second consecutive month of strong trade figures.
“These are very strong results, really being driven by the usual factors that you’d expect in the current resource boom,” he said.
“Iron ore exports were up and we are starting to see signs of capital imports pulling back.
“Both those things are part of a longer term trend we expect to play out over the next few years.”
During the month, exports were flat, while imports rose by 1.0 per cent.