The seasonally adjusted trade balance returned at E3.9 billion surplus in March, down from a marginally smaller revised E4.5 billion excess in February.
The limited deterioration reflected a 1.8 percent monthly increase in exports that was easily more than outpaced by a 4.0 percent bounce in imports, their best showing since December 2013. Within the overall monthly rise in exports, consumer goods were up 2.1 percent (non-durables 3.3 percent), capital goods 1.9 percent and intermediates 1.0 percent. Energy jumped fully 8.4 percent and without this category exports would have expanded 1.6 percent. Imports similarly saw broad-based gains with consumer goods (5.0 percent) particularly robust.
The latest figures put the first quarter black ink at E12.2 billion after E12.6 billion in the October-December period. However, import volumes were a good deal stronger than their export counterpart which warns of a negative contribution from foreign trade to real GDP growth.
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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