Which country could possibly record the largest trade deficit since November 2012, the highest unemployment rate since December 2002 and largest retail sales growth since February 2013 all in the same month? Australia, that’s who!
Starting from the top the international trade deficit soared to $2.261b in September, well above the downwardly-revised $1.013b deficit of August and expectations for an increase to $1.85b, with the figure the largest trade deficit recorded since November 2012. Overall imports surged by 6%, overshadowing a 1% lift in exports. Of our key commodity exports iron ore surged 17.5% in Dollar terms, thanks largely to a huge 26% (estimated) lift for the price of fines, while coal and natural gas both declined falling 1.5% and 2.1% respectively.
Released alongside the trade figures were amended labour force statistics from the ABS. Using new seasonality adjustments for the period between December 2013 through to September 2014, the ABS now estimate that the national unemployment rate now sits at 6.2%, the highest level seen since December 2002.
Completing the hat-trick of major economic releases, retail sales logged their largest month-on-month jump since February last year in September with an increase of 1.2% reported. The reading was well above the 0.1% gain of August and expectations for a rise of 0.3%. While an impressive headline result, the ABS revealed that the largest contributor to the increase was household goods retailing (+4.1%) with the electronic goods sub-component surging 9.2%. While not completely definitive, if you’re looking at your iPhone 6 screen reading this, your purchase, along with that of many others, likely contributed significantly to the increase. The ABS estimates that this one item alone contributed around half of the monthly retail gain. Thanks to the surprise in September retail sales for the quarter, adjusted for inflationary effects, rose 1.0%.