The seasonally adjusted trade balance returned a sizeable E5.1 billion surplus in December following a slightly larger revised E3.8 billion excess in November.
December's sharp improvement was mainly attributable to a 2.6 percent monthly bounce in exports, their fourth increase in the last five months, which easily more than reversed a 1.1 percent mid-quarter drop. Outside of durable consumer goods all of the major sectors saw solid monthly gains and total exports were up 6.3 percent from their level in December 2013.
However, weak domestic demand and lower oil costs were also once again a factor in the expansion of the black ink. Hence, imports were down 1.6 percent versus December (minus 0.5 percent ex-energy), their third straight month of decline. Compared with a year ago, purchases from overseas were off 1.3 percent.
Having hit a low of E-4.1 billion in March 2011 the turnaround in the Italian trade balance has been sharp and quite steady. Net exports probably provided a useful boost to economic growth last quarter and look likely to play a key role in any sustained upswing in 2015.
Merchandise trade balance measures the difference between imports and exports of both tangible goods and services. The level of the international trade balance, as well as changes in exports and imports, indicate trends in foreign trade. The goods balance is the main market focus.
Changes in the level of imports and exports, along with the difference between the two (the trade balance) are a valuable gauge of economic trends here and abroad. While these trade figures can directly impact all financial markets, they primarily affect currency values in foreign exchange markets.
Separate reports are published for external and internal EU trade. The extra-EU trade data are compiled on the basis of customs declarations with non-EU countries. The intra-EU trade data (Intrastat) are derived from surveys and provide statistics on trade between Italy and other EU member states. The data are available monthly. World trade data are available within one month after the reference month while intra-EU trade data are available within 7 weeks after the reference month.
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