CANBERRA, AAP – Australian goods exports hit a record high of $36 billion in April, lifting the country’s trade surplus to $10.1 billion.

This was the country’s third highest goods surplus on record, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

“Following strong exports in March 2021, metalliferous ores increased another one per cent in April 2021 to record a historic high of $16.5 billion, driving record high exports,” said ABS head of international statistics, Andrew Tomadini said.

Exports increased $12.6 million in April, but imports fell $1.9 billion, adding to the already strong surplus recorded in March 2021.

Meanwhile, the ABS said payroll jobs eased 0.5 per cent in the fortnight to May 8, but were still 1.5 per cent above their pre-pandemic level.

However, they were down 1.5 per cent since March when the JobKeeper wage subsidy ended.

“The end of JobKeeper, seasonality in the labour market around Easter and short-term restrictions in some states may influence payroll job levels in the weeks between the end of March and May 8, 2021,” said Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS.

Figures released last week showed the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 per cent in April, the sixth consecutive monthly decline.

In response, the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index – a pointer to future household spending – jumped 1.5 per cent to above its long-run average.

The confidence survey found respondents’ views on their current financial condition were particularly upbeat, rising 4.5 per cent and with only 23 per cent voting they were “worse off” than this time last year, the lowest result since February 2020.

Views on future financial conditions were also up 3.3 per cent.

ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank warned that future confidence may be challenged by the emergence of new COVID-19 cases in Melbourne.

“However, we know the impact on sentiment is temporary if the outbreak is quickly brought under control,” he said.

Another potential negative for confidence and spending is the rising cost of transport on the household budget.

The Australian Automobile Association has found the average household spent $354 per week on transport in the first three months of this year, a $44 increase on the previous quarter.

This 14.3 per cent increase was the largest in at least five years.

“This sharp rise in transport costs needs to be monitored by governments, which need to avoid policies and decisions that impact cost of living,” AAA managing director Michael Bradley said.