The seasonally adjusted trade balance was in a E3.5 billion surplus in April, short of a marginally downwardly revised E3.8 billion in March and the smallest excess since September 2014.
The modest deterioration reflected a 0.8 percent monthly fall in exports, their first decline since December, as imports were flat after three successive months of growth. Compared with April 2014 exports rose 9.0 percent, little different from their end of quarter rate (9.1 percent) while imports increased 9.3 percent, also much in line with the previous month's rate (9.7 percent).
The monthly change in exports was hit by falls in capital goods (3.9 percent) and intermediates (0.4 percent) but boosted by consumer goods (1.3 percent) and, in particular, energy (9.9 percent). Excluding energy exports fell a sharper 1.1 percent. Imports saw broad-based declines amongst the major categories and would have dropped versus March but for an 8.8 percent bounce in energy.
The latest data leave the trade gap at the start of the second quarter some 13.1 percent below its average in the first quarter. In part this will reflect higher oil costs but it also increases the risk of another negative contribution from net exports 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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