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First trade deficit in 11 months

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Australia has recorded in January its first trade deficit in almost a year. The seasonally adjusted deficit of $673 million is the first monthly deficit since February 2011 according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. A 10 percent fall in the export of goods and a two percent fall in imports accounted for the $2 billion turnaround from the December trade surplus, though these falls can partly be explained by one off factors. Exports of metal ores and minerals for example, fell 15 percent, in part caused by cyclone Heidi preventing the loading of ships in West Australia. Volatile items like non-monetary gold also fell in January by 56 percent or $1.1 billion. Its shipment depends on the monthly cycle of the Perth Mint which imports, refines and exports in different months. Services and manufacturing exports rose in January however, with travel up four percent and other services up by three percent. Manufacturing rose by five percent. Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson was encouraged by these figures.  "It shows Australia continues to diversify and grow its export base, although minerals and energy will remain the main drivers for many years to come," Emerson said.

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