South Africa’s trade deficit narrowed to R0.9bn in September as lower oil prices curbed imports.
The trade gap eased from a revised R10.1bn in August, the Pretoria-based South African Revenue Service said in an e-mailed statement. The median estimate of 14 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a shortfall of R4.9bn.
South Africa’s trade outlook has improved this year as falling oil prices and weaker domestic demand curbs imports. The deficit for the first nine months of the year was R37.35bn, almost half its value in the same period of 2014. That’s easing pressure on the current-account deficit and may underpin the rand after it fell 16% against the dollar this year.
The rand rose 0.5% to 13.826 against the dollar as of 3:40 p.m. in Johannesburg. The government is projecting the shortfall on the current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, will reach 4.1% of gross domestic product this year. The deficit was 3.1% of GDP in the second quarter.
Exports rose 5.6% to R92.3bn, mainly due to a jump in mineral products, which includes coal and iron-ore shipments. Imports fell 4.5% to R93.bn. The monthly trade figures are often volatile, reflecting the timing of shipments of commodities such as oil and diamonds.