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East Coast petrol prices hit 4-year highsRecord Argentinian, Chinese and Indian touristsWeekly Petrol prices; Tourism
Petrol: According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the national average Australian price of unleaded petrol rose by 1.2 cents to a 15-week high of 152.2 cents a litre.
Unleaded petrol at four-year highs: Brisbane unleaded petrol prices rose by 12.8 cents to a four-year high of 159.8 cents a litre last week. Hobart unleaded petrol prices lifted by 0.7 cents to fresh four-year highs of 159.6 cents a litre. And unleaded petrol prices increased by 2.1 cents in Canberra to four-year highs of 155.3 cents a litre.
Tourism: Tourist arrivals rose by 0.2 per cent to 768,100 in July, increasing from an upwardly-revised 766,800 (previously 765,900) in June. Departures rose by 0.9 per cent in July to 926,200, up from a downwardly revised 918,100 (previously 918,600) in June. Over the year to July, arrivals are up 3.0 per cent and departures up by 4.7 per cent.
Record tourists: Over the year to July a record 1,433,300 tourists came to Australia from China, up by 9.4 per cent. A record 339,200 Indian tourists travelled to Australia over the year to July, up by 19.5 per cent. And a record 28,800 tourists came to Australia from Argentina, up by 37.8 per cent over the year. 
What does it all mean?
National unleaded petrol prices have crept above $1.50 a litre, the highest level in almost four months. Pump prices rose by a whopping 13 cents a litre in Brisbane last week to four-year highs, touching $1.60 a litre in some suburbs. But prices peaked last week and are beginning to fall as the retail petrol price discounting cycle begins. 
Motorists in Hobart and Canberra aren’t so fortunate with pump prices remaining “stuck” around $1.55-$1.60 a litre – also at fouryear highs.
Global crude oil prices are on the rise with International Energy Agency warning of higher prices as supply losses mount in Iran and Venezuela. The benchmark Singapore gasoline price has hit four-year highs, signalling more pump pain for Aussie motorists, especially with the Aussie dollar near two-year lows against the greenback.
Tourism Australia isn’t resting on its laurels given the highly competitive nature of the industry. Aware that tourist experiences and demands are ever-changing, the government agency launched a new $10 million “UnDiscover Australia” campaign in South and South-East Asia on September 1.
According to today’s overseas arrivals data from the Bureau of Statistics, travellers from India, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia accounted for 1.36 million international arrivals over the year to July. In fact, a record 196,800 tourists from our near neighbour Indonesia made the journey south over the year to June. And a fresh record-high near 340,000 Indian tourists ventured to Australia over the 12 months to July.
Tourism Australia estimates that tourists from South and SouthEast Asia spent more than $5 million on hotels and accommodation, airfares, car rental, theme parks and other tourism-related goods and services while travelling Down Under in the past year.
And it appears that travellers from Latin America are ignoring the political instability and broader emerging market turbulence, which has seen the Argentine peso fall by more than 40 per cent against the greenback this year, with Argentinian tourists to Australia at record highs. Common business interests in mining, wine and food could be driving travel demand. While young Latin Americans are increasingly venturing to Australia to study. And of course those who followed Los Pumas’ first victory over the Wallabies on Australian soil in 35 years will head home happy.
What do the figures show?Petrol prices
According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the national average Australian price of unleaded petrol rose by 1.2 cents to 15-week highs of 152.2 cents a litre in the past week.
The metropolitan petrol price rose by 0.9 cents to 152.0 cents per litre and the regional price rose by 1.5 cents to 152.4 cents per litre. The gross retail margin fell by 0.1 cents to 11.14 cents a litre.
Average unleaded petrol prices across states and territories over the past week were: Sydney (down by 3.5 cents to 148.5 c/l), Melbourne (down by 4.7 cents to 151.0 c/l), Brisbane (up by 12.8 cents to 159.8 c/l), Adelaide (up by 0.7 cents to 152.0 c/l), Perth (up by 4.0 cents to 147.8 c/l), Darwin (up by 0.1 cents at 154.6 c/l), Canberra (up by 2.1 cents to 155.3 c/l) and Hobart (up by 0.7 cents to 159.6 c/l).
Today, the national average wholesale (terminal gate) unleaded petrol price stands at 141.8 cents a litre, up by 0.7 cents over the week. The terminal gate diesel price stands at 146.0 cents a litre, up by 0.5 cents over the past week.
The national average diesel petrol price rose by 2.3 cents to 156.0 cents a litre over the week. The metropolitan price rose by 2.4 cents to 156.3 cents a litre with the regional price up by2.3 cents to 155.9 cents a litre.
Last week the key Singapore gasoline price rose by US$1.65 to US$88.80 a barrel. In Australian dollar terms, the Singapore gasoline price rose $1.46 or 1.2 per cent last week to $123.33 a barrel or 77.57 cents a litre – the highest level in four years.
MotorMouth records the following average retail prices for capital cities today: Sydney 146.9c; Melbourne 148.7c; Brisbane 157.7c; Adelaide 163.8c; Perth 143.2c; Canberra 155.9c; Darwin 154.2c; Hobart 158.3c.
Overseas arrivals & departures
Tourist arrivals rose by 0.2 per cent to 768,100 in July, increasing from an upwardly-revised 766,800 (previously 765,900) in June.
And tourist departures rose by 0.9 per cent in July to 926,200, up from a downwardly revised 918,100 (previously 918,600) in June.
Over the year to July, arrivals are up 3.0 per cent and departures up by 5.4 per cent.
The annual number of permanent and long-term overseas arrivals rose to a record high 818,430 in July, up by 4.5 per cent over the year.
In July, tourists from Greater China (China and Hong Kong) totalled 153,000 (mainland China 126,000; Hong Kong 27,000), ahead of New Zealand (115,000).
China is the largest source of tourists to Australia. Over the past year a record 1,433,300 tourists came to Australia from China, up by 9.4 per cent.
Tourists from New Zealand totalled 1,371,800 visitors over the past year, up by 1.4 per cent.
A record 339,200 Indian tourists travelled to Australia over the year to July, up by 19.5 per cent.
What is the importance of the economic data?
Weekly figures on petrol prices are compiled by ORIMA Research on behalf of the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP). National average retail prices are calculated as the weighted average of each State/Territory’s metropolitan and non-metropolitan retail petrol prices, with the weights based on the number of registered petrol vehicles in each of these regions. AIP data for retail petrol prices is based on available market data supplied by MotorMouth.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases data on overseas arrivals and departures is produced monthly and is an indicator of the health of the tourism sector. The figures are also useful in understanding spending trends and tracking migrant numbers – an indicator with widespread implications for employment, housing and spending.
What are the implications for interest rates and investors?
Tourism continues to grow in importance, with exports (international tourism consumption in Australia) generating $37.2 billion worth of income for the Aussie economy in 2016/17. Chinese tourists are heading Down Under in their droves, spending on average more than $8,000 each on a trip according to Tourism Australia. That near $11 billion in annual spending is being complemented by record numbers of tourists from other parts of Asia, including India and Indonesia.
Aussie drivers will likely experience petrol pump pain as they hit the road for the school holidays in the coming weeks. Unleaded petrol prices continue to hover around four-year highs in some cities and towns on the eastern seaboard.
CommSec expects interest rates to be unchanged until late 2019.
Published by Ryan Felsman, Senior Economist, CommSec