IT: Merchandise Trade

Tue Apr 17 04:00:00 CDT 2018

Actual Previous
Level E4.2B E4.2B

The seasonally adjusted trade balance was E4.2 billion in the black in February, matching its unrevised outturn in January.

The stability of February's headline reflected a 0.6 percent monthly contraction in both sides of the balance sheet. For exports and imports, this was their second consecutive drop and the former now stand at their weakest level since September last year. A 5.9 percent decline in the volatile energy sector was only partially responsible for the decrease in sales overseas as even excluding this category exports were off 0.4 percent. Consumer goods (minus 3.0 percent) did the damage as capital goods (1.7 percent) and intermediates (0.1 percent) both made ground.

Total net exports boosted quarterly real GDP growth by 0.3 percentage points at the end of 2017. They look unlikely to have been as supportive last quarter.

The merchandise trade balance measures the difference between imports and exports of goods. The level of the international trade balance, as well as changes in exports and imports, indicate trends in foreign trade and can offer a guide to an economy's competitiveness.

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.