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Friday, 29 January 2016

Export prices tumbled in Q4

Commodities struggling

There has been some slightly more upbeat news for some commodities in recent days. 

The gold price is back up to US$1,115/oz, iron ore has ticked up a little to US$41.50/tonne, and perhaps most notably the oil price gained another +3.7 per cent overnight to sit back at US$33.47/barrel. 

Still no joy for base metals though, and the big picture for the last quarter was a continuation of the decline. 

Export prices tumble

The ABS released its International Trade prices data yesterday, which showed that import prices ticked down by -0.3 per cent in the final quarter of the year largely driven by cheaper petroleum, to be up by +2.4 per cent over the calendar year (from a reported +3.5 per cent in Q3).

Australia's major import items based upon contribution are road vehicles, petroleum, machinery & equipment, and telecommunications equipment. 

Export prices just kept sliding, down by another -5.4 per cent in the final quarter of the year to be -10.3 per cent lower over the year. 


The falls in the export price index over the fourth quarter were driven by declines in the prices of metal ores (-8.8 per cent), coal (-6.3 per cent), petroleum (-15.8 per cent), non-ferrous metals (-9.6 per cent), cereals (-9.1 per cent), meat (-4.9 per cent) and gas (-4.2 per cent).

Which is to say, more or less everything, and the annual figures tell a similar story.

Australia's main export items are iron ore, coal, gas, and gold, while meat has enjoyed a large uplift in the Asian export market in recent times. 

In short we may be selling things in ever greater volumes as the production phase of the mining boom ramps up, but the prices we are getting for them are coming back down to earth with a thud.