IT: Merchandise Trade

January 17, 2017 03:00 CST

Actual Previous
Level E4.0B E3.8B

The seasonally adjusted trade balance was E4.0 billion in the black in November following an unrevised E3.8 billion surplus in October.

The headline improvement reflected a 2.2 percent monthly rise in exports, their third increase in the last four months, that was only partially offset by a 1.7 percent gain in imports. That said, the increase in the former was flattered by a 21.0 percent monthly spurt in energy and, without this impact, would have expanded a smaller 1.7 percent. Still, gains were broad-based with consumer goods up 1.3 percent and capital goods and intermediates 1.9 percent stronger. Annual growth of exports now stands at 5.7 percent, up from minus 2.2 percent last time, while the yearly rise in imports climbed from minus 1.6 percent to 5.6 percent.

The November data leave the fourth quarter average surplus so far about 7 percent short of its third quarter mean. This warns that net exports may not make much, if any contribution, to fourth quarter real GDP growth.

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.