Economic round up

Export prices fell by 3% in the three months to September, for the first time since March 2005, according to the latest international price indices released by the ABS this morning.

The decrease this quarter was driven by price falls in metalliferous ores and metal scrap (-7.2%), non-ferrous metals (-12.5%) and coal, coke and briquettes (-2.8%). These decreases were partly offset by increases in prices received for petroleum, petroleum products and related materials (+9.4%), and cereals and cereal preparations (+3.4%).

Through the year to September quarter 2007, the Export Price Index decreased 2.5%.

Import prices also fell, but by much less. The index fell by 0.8% in the September quarter 2007, following a 0.1% increase in the three months to June 2007. Falling prices for telecommunication and sound-recording equipment (-5.6%), office machines (-4.9%) and road vehicles (-1.8%) sent the index lower.

In figures also released by the ABS this morning, new vehicle sales are flattening out. The September 2007 seasonally adjusted estimate for total sales of new motor vehicles (87,750) increased by 1.8% compared with August 2007.

All vehicle types showed increases, with other vehicles, sports utility vehicles and passenger vehicles increasing by 3.6%, 2.2% and 1% respectively.

The Australian dollar was buying at US89.33c and selling at US89.36c at 12.50 today, down slightly from yesterday’s close spread of US89.48c to US89.51c.

Crude oil prices struck a record $US90 a barrel in after-hours trading in New York overnight amid increased tensions between Turkey’s Government and Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Traders said a weak US dollar and supply jitters had also stoked the price surge.



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