The seasonally adjusted trade balance was in a seasonally adjusted E3.9 billion surplus in January following an unrevised E5.1 billion excess in December.
The headline deterioration reflected a combination of weaker exports and stronger imports. The former posted a 2.5 percent monthly drop, their second fall in the last three months, and now show annual growth of minus 4.2 percent, their worst performance since August 2013. Tumbling prices saw energy sales overseas slump 18.2 percent on the month but there were also sizeable decreases in consumer good (3.0 percent) and capital goods (3.2 percent). Intermediates edged up 0.3 percent. Imports were 1.0 percent higher versus December (ex-energy 2.3 percent) when they declined 1.5 percent but were also 4.2 percent lower on the year.
The January surplus was 8.1 percent below the fourth quarter average and so warns that net exports may not provide much help to real GDP growth this quarter.
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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