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Australia February Trade Surplus A$4.801 Billion

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Australia had a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade surplus of A$4.801 billion in February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.

That beat expectations for a surplus of A$3.70 billion and was up from A$4.549 billion in January.

Exports were flat on month at A$39.833 billion. Non-rural goods rose A$127 million, while non-monetary gold fell A$142 million (7 percent) and rural goods fell A$44 million (1 percent). Net exports of goods under merchanting remained steady at A$10 million. Services credits rose A$136 million (2 percent).

Imports fell 1.0 percent to A$35.032 billion. Intermediate and other merchandise goods fell A$443 million (4 percent), capital goods fell A$155 million (2 percent) and non-monetary gold fell A$22 million (5 percent). Consumption goods rose A$12 million. Services debits rose A$235 million (3 percent).

Also on Wednesday:
• The value of retail sales in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent on month in February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said - coming in at A$27.267 billion. That beat expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent following the 0.1 percent gain in January.

By category, sales were up for food retailing (0.4 percent), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.2 percent), and other retailing (0.1 percent).

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.0 percent) was relatively unchanged while household goods retailing (-0.2 percent) and department stores (-0.2 percent) fell.

By region, New South Wales (0.2 percent), Queensland (0.3 percent), Victoria (0.2 percent), Western Australia (0.3 percent), and the Australian Capital Territory (0.1 percent) all were higher.

South Australia (0.0 percent) was relatively unchanged, while Tasmania (-0.2 percent) and the Northern Territory (-0.2 percent) fell.

• The service sector in Australia remained in contraction in March, albeit at a slightly slower rate, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed with a Performance of Service Index score of 44.8.

That's up marginally from 44.5 in February, although it remains well beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. It's also well below the 12-monthg average of 52.3.

Individually, sales, new orders, supplier deliveries, finished stocks and selling prices all were in contraction - while employment, capacity utilization, input prices and average wages all expanded.

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