8 May 2012

Australia's trade balance worsens

7:24 pm on 8 May 2012

Australia's trade balance has worsened, due to a rise in imports outpacing exports growth.

Official figures released on Tuesday show a deficit of $A1.6 billion in March, the third consecutive month of shortfalls.

Exports rose 2% to $A24.5 billion, while imports rose 5% to $26.1 billion, driven in part by equipment for the booming mining sector, and consumption goods.

Earlier, retail sales in Australia posted their biggest jump in nearly a year.

Official figures showed retail sales rose 0.9% to $A21.2 billion in March, with households spending more on eating out and shopping for clothing and footwear.

Excluding price changes, spending rose 1.8%.

Separately, ANZ Bank's job advertisements survey fell 3.1% in April, the first monthly decline this year.

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates by 0.5 points to 3.75%.