Aust economy's transition getting bumpy

Weak international trade figures and job ads data shows Australian economic transition away from a mining investment boom is not be going as smoothly as it could.

Australia's trade surplus was $602 million in June, compared to a surplus of $507 million in May, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

During the month, exports fell one per cent and imports fell two per cent, the ABS said.

Meanwhile, job advertisements have fallen for the fifth consecutive month, down 1.1 per cent in July, seasonally adjusted, the latest ANZ Job Ads Survey showed.

RBC senior economist Su-Lin Ong said both pieces of economic data were disappointing.

"It's clear you've got an economy that is trying to transition.

"I think there is a bit of a bright spot in terms of exports, although they show a bit of correction.

"The data shows you're going to be relying on net exports for economic growth, the domestic demand is going to be weak and that is going to be further exacerbated by a deterioration in the labour market.

"Net exports still look as though they will contribute to growth in the quarter but not as much as we thought."

The ANZ jobs data shows the unemployment rate will continue to rise for the remainder of the year, Ms Ong said.

"We actually think the most important data was the ANZ job vacancies data, the trend is very much all in one direction," she said.

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said although the trade data came in lower than expected, it was still the best result since December 2011.

"It definitely does signal that Australia's external sector is healing to a certain extent, and making the required transition toward an improvement in net exports, which will add to growth as the peak in resource investment approaches later this year," Mr Kennedy said.

"That's going to help to plug some of the holes that will be left over from fading resource investments."

The ABS also released house price data on Tuesday.

Australian capital city house prices rose 2.4 per cent in the June quarter, and over the year to June the house price index was up 5.1 per cent.

Mr Kennedy said the stronger than expected house prices figures were in line with numerous indicators, such as building approvals and housing finance, that have been pointing to a recovery in the housing sector.

He said prices could continue to rise for at least the next year.

"The cash rate dragging at 2.75 per cent is bringing a lot of people in but as well as that, the fact that the Reserve Bank is maintaining their easing bias is bringing a lot more investors into the market as they look for a return on their investment at higher yields," Mr Kennedy said.

"Over the past few months you've seen yields in competing asset classes continually move lower and for that reason, investment housing in particular has been in a flurry of activity over the past few months.

"We think the housing sector is going to go quite well in the near term, because of the low interest rates and because investors are looking for a place to put their cash and the logical area for that is the housing market.

"The RBA has made it quite clear they're looking for an uptick in the housing market to offset the fading resource investment."

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9343+0.001+0.11%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5561+0.0006+0.11%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6765+0.001+0.14%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg