Australia has posted a surprise return to surplus in December, with November’s figures also revised into the black.
Bureau of Statistics data shows Australia sold $468 million more in goods and services to overseas buyers than the nation bought off them in December.
November’s data was also revised up in the latest figures to go from a deficit of $118 million to a surplus of $83 million.
The positive results mark the first trade surpluses for Australia since December 2011, and mean Australia had a surplus of $134 million in the last three months of 2013, up from a large deficit of nearly $3 billion in the third quarter.
December’s surplus was driven by a 3.7 per cent rise in exports, while imports were up a more modest 2.3 per cent.
There was good news for some of the nation’s farmers, with the value of wheat exports almost doubling in the month, with a $436 million increase.
Iron ore (+2.4 per cent) and coal (+4.4 per cent) both also recorded solid increases.
Economists say the strong rise in export volumes apparent in the data points towards a solid contribution to the next economic growth figures for the December quarter, due for release on March 5.
The Australian dollar was driven solidly higher by the much better-than-expected trade figures, rising from around 89.2 to as high as 89.8 US cents soon after the release.