FR: Merchandise Trade

Wed Nov 08 01:45:00 CST 2017

Actual Previous Revised
Level E-4.67B E-4.51B E-4.19B

The seasonally adjusted merchandise trade balance was in deficit to the tune of E4.69 billion in September. This was up from a smaller revised E4.19 billion in August but still comfortably below the levels seen earlier in the year.

The deterioration reflected a 0.3 percent monthly rise in exports that was easily more than offset by a 1.3 percent spurt in imports. The former found support from gains in refined petroleum products, aerospace products, chemicals and military equipment but suffered from weaker sales of metals and pharmaceuticals. Compared September 2016, exports were up 8.2 percent and imports 7.2 percent.

Mainly due to a poor July (E5.59 billion), the third quarter red ink stood at E14.44 billion, just a 0.4 percent drop on the previous quarter. However, versus its level a year ago the deficit was down nearly 12 percent. French exporters will be more than a little happy with the recent slide in the value of the euro.

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. Given the size of the French economy, the euro can be sensitive to changes in the trade balance. The bond market is also sensitive to the risk of importing inflation. This report gives a breakdown of trade with major countries as well, so it can be instructive for investors who are interested in diversifying globally. For example, a trend of accelerating exports to a particular country might signal economic strength and investment opportunities in that country.