Australia forecasts first annual budget surplus in 15 years

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government has forecast the nation’s first balanced annual budget in 15 years but warns that economic pressures such as persistent inflation will sink the country into deeper debt. Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced Tuesday that a $2.8 billion surplus was forecast for the fiscal year ending June 30. He also released details of his government’s economic blueprint for next year that aims to ease financial hardships of the most needy without stoking inflation. High prices for commodities including iron ore, coal and gas, plus income tax revenue buoyed by low unemployment, helped deliver the first surplus since the global financial crisis tipped the Australian economy into the red in 2008.