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Market Update : 
Australian Deficit Surges to a Record in November, Housing Market Weak
Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 10:13 AM ET January 08 2013

6:30 PM Sydney – Australian stocks closed lower as financials and miners led the decliners. Trade deficit surged a record high in November as imports rose faster than exports. Iron ore prices rebounded to a 15-month high.

Stocks opened weaker and continued the slide and closed at the low of the session after the release of trade deficit data and another monthly weakness in the housing market.

Record Trade Deficit in November

Australia registered tenth month of deficit in a row after exports rose at a slower pace than imports in November.

The deficit surged to $2.64 billion, the largest since March 2008 and rose from $2.44 billion revised deficit in October, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Exports increased 1% to $24.7 billion and imports rose 2% to $27.3 billion. Coal shipments rose 2% and minerals and iron ore shipment rose 6%.

Trade deficit has surged from the low of $242 million in February to $2.64 billion in November, largely on the weakness in the iron ore prices.

Iron ore prices have rebounded in the last two months after reaching a 3-year low in early September. At today’s close, iron ore price with 62% content, added 0.4% to a new high since October of 2011 to $153.90 a ton.

Weak Housing Market

The latest housing market data showed another weak month of activities.

The Australian Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association reported that housing market activity fell for the 31st month in a row and home and apartment construction sector was the weakest.

The ASX 200 index decreased 27.10 or 0.6% to 4,690.20 and the broader All Ordinaries slumped 25.75 to 4,712.32.

Australian dollar advanced to $1.051.

In trading, stock turnover increased to 1.3 billion shares worth $3.9 billion and 386 stocks closed higher, 527 declined and 359 were unchanged.

Stock Movers

BHP Billiton Limited declined 31 cents to $37.50 and Rio Tinto Limited slumped 80 cents to $66.60. Fortescue Metals decreased 15 cents to $4.74.

Newcrest Mining dropped 36 cents to $22.20. Kingsgate gained 9 cents to $4.65 and Whitehaven Coal lowered 1 cent to $3.49.

Transfield Services down 1 cent to $1.91 and engineering contractor WorleyParsons jumped 15 cents to $24.21. Monadelphous Group plummeted 42 cents to $24.52 and Downer EDI slipped 4 cents to $4.07.

Lend Lease increased 10 cents to $9.53.

Oil Search Limited gained 6 cents to $7.11 and Santos Limited up 9 cents to $11.33.

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Sources: Data collected by and from company press releases, filings and corporate websites.
Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc.

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