IT: Merchandise Trade

Mon Mar 19 05:00:00 CDT 2018

Consensus Previous
Level E4.2B E3.6B

Seasonally adjusted, the January merchandise trade surplus stood at E4.2 billion, a solid, if only partial, rebound from December's 21 percent contraction to an unrevised E3.6 billion.

However, the recovery masked a deterioration in both sides of the balance sheet. Hence, exports fell 2.5 percent on the month, their first drop since last September. This reflected hefty losses in most areas with consumer goods down 6.0 percent, capital goods 2.9 percent and intermediates 0.9 percent. Indeed, but for a near-21 percent bounce in energy sales, exports would have shrunk 3.2 percent. Meantime, imports were off some 4.4 percent, also their worst performance since the end of the third quarter.

The weakness of exports will probably prove only temporary given what is still a strong global economy. And this will be important to Italian growth as the domestic household sector continues to struggle.

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.