IT: Merchandise Trade

Thu Feb 15 03:00:00 CST 2018

Actual Previous
Level E3.6B E4.5B

The seasonally adjusted merchandise trade balance was in a E3.6 billion surplus in December, down from an unrevised E4.5 billion in November and the least black ink since August.

The headline deterioration masked a 0.6 percent monthly increase in exports, their fourth straight gain, and reflected a 3.3 percent jump in imports. Both sides of the balance sheet registered new record highs.

Exports were depressed by a 10.2 percent monthly drop in energy and without this would have risen 0.9 percent on the back of strength in consumer goods. By contrast, imports were boosted by energy where a 7.9 percent bounce added 0.6 percentage points to the overall monthly change. Unadjusted annual export growth now stands at 2.0 percent, down from 9.7 percent in November, while the import rate fell from 8.4 percent to 3.7 percent. Both yearly rates were biased down by fewer working days compared with December 2016.

December's report made for a fourth quarter trade surplus of E12.4 billion, a 3.8 percent increase versus the third quarter and in line with a positive contribution from total net exports to real GDP growth during the period.

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.