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November trade surplus a 'good news' start for year

November's near-$500 million surplus in goods and services was a welcome "good news" start for 1998, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Tim Fischer, said today.

"While I never become too exited over one month's figures, the fact remains that the $497 million surplus was well in excess of market expectation, which was for a very modest surplus of only $50 million," Mr Fischer said from his farm at Boree Creek.

"I also note with interest that consumption goods imports fell by 2.5pc in November, despite this traditionally being a period of strong consumer spending and the good retail figures registered this Christmas. Perhaps it is an indication that this was a 'Buy Australian' Christmas."

Mr Fischer added that he was pleased to see that the November figures confirmed the direction of the goods and services balance, which in trend terms has been in surplus since April last year.