The seasonally adjusted trade balance was in a E4.0 billion surplus in December, unchanged from its unrevised November outturn.
The steady headline reflected a second consecutive 2.3 percent monthly rise in exports and a slightly larger 1.8 percent increase in imports. The former was boosted by a 10.4 percent bounce in energy and without this category would have expanded 2.0 percent. However, all sectors made fresh gains with intermediates (2.2 percent) leading the way ahead of consumer goods (2.0 percent) and capital goods (1.8 percent). Annual growth of exports was 5.7 percent, up just a tick from last time and a 4-month high, while imports were 6.1 percent higher on the year.
The December data put the fourth quarter trade surplus at E11.8 billion, down from E12.5 billion the July-September period but probably indicative of at worst only a small negative contribution from total net exports to 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.