According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, retail sales went up by 1.1% in April (month-on-month) in line with expectations and unchanged from the previous month's report. In yearly terms, retail sales went up by 25%, a remarkable figure, taking into account that in April of last year Australia was in the midst of a national lockdown.
The trade balance stood at 8028 million, over the previous month's 5574 million and expectations of 7900 million. Exports rose by 3% in April after contracting by 2% in the previous month. Conversely, imports declined by 3% after rising by 4% in the previous month.
Recently, it was reported that the Australian economy grew by 1.8% in the first quarter, which beat expectations. This growth was mostly caused by an increase in domestic and business spending as well as a soaring demand for commodities in the rest of the world. The central bank decided to leave the cash rates unchanged at 0.1%, after signaling that it will monitor inflation, rising wages and housing prices.
Despite the gains, there are still concerns regarding the pernicious effects of the extended lockdown in the State of Victoria. Recently, state authorities have decided to extend the lockdown by one more week.
"I know this is not the news that everybody wants to hear but given the cases we have... the government had no choice," commented State Premier James Merlino. "If we don't do this , this thing will get away. This variant of concern will become uncontrollable and people will die.”
Australia has been relatively successful at containing the spread of COVID-19, being one of the least affected countries in the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 30,137 cases have been reported, as well as 910 deaths. About 4,642,703 vaccine doses have already been administered, making the Australian vaccination campaign relatively unsuccessful given that this was the government’s goal by the end of March. The government now aims to vaccinate all 20 million Australians by October.
Since the beginning of the week, the Australian dollar gained 0.34% against the greenback, breaking a three-week losing streak. By 5:22 GMT, the Aussie dropped by 0.16% against the US dollar, falling to the 0.7740 level.