The seasonally adjusted trade balance was in a E3.6 billion surplus in September following an unrevised E3.3 billion excess in August.
The modest widening in the headline reflected a 1.6 percent monthly increase in exports that more than offset a 1.1 percent rise in imports. The bounce in exports was the first gain of any size since May and was mainly attributable to a 4.1 percent jump in capital goods although both consumer goods (0.4 percent) and intermediates (1.1 percent) also made advances. Energy fell 7.3 percent and without this category exports would have risen 1.9 percent versus August.
The September data make for third quarter black ink of E10.5 billion, up 3.4 percent versus the second quarter outturn. Sharp swings in oil prices help to mask underlying net export volume trends but the likelihood is that total net foreign trade had a small positive impact on economic growth in July-September. If so, with the flash GDP report showing a quarterly increase in total output of only 0.2 percent, the implication would be that domestic demand was disappointingly soft.
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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