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Economy in Brief

Zone Trade Flows Show Mixed Signals But Stay Strong
by Robert Brusca  May 16, 2011

The EMU trade picture is somewhat unclear as both exports and imports accelerate over shorter horizons from three-months to six-months to twelve-months but each flow also sees a decline in the progression of the Yr/Yr growth rate. One year ago the 12-month growth rate for exports and imports was 20% and 19% respectively. In March export growth was running at 14.7% Yr/Yr and import growth is at 15.2% Yr/Yr.

Still the shorter term growth rates show acceleration and consistent acceleration. Of course, the short term growth rates are subject to more volatility and are therefore less reliable. But when the pattern across various short term segments is consistent, as it is this time showing a trend to increasingly stronger growth across horizons for both exports and for imports, the message is unclear when the short term and longer term patterns are juxtaposed.

For both exports and for imports the pattern of strength is in gear for sequential growth rates as the component themes over shorter horizons for both export and import detail sends the same conflicted signal as across the main commodity groups. That is that components are accelerating across shorter horizons but still show decelerations in the compared Yr/Yr pace.

On balance it seems that whatever weakening may be in store for EMU exports, it is not very pronounced. Short terms flows have been on the rebound and are gaining strength even though their Year-over-year metrics are lower. We have seen other information suggesting that MFG in the Zone has eased somewhat from its early recovery pace, but it is too soon to the draw the same conclusion about export and import flows in the zone.

Export growth rates over three-months are in the 30% to 40% range when annualized; this is exceptionally strong. For imports the growth rates range from a low of 14.3% for food and drinks to a high of 41% for raw materials where surging oil prices are leading the 3-month growth rates to balloon. Despite such distortions, imports too are relatively strong across categories. EMU trade does not show really show much sign of slowing.

Euro-Area Trade Trends For Goods
  M/M% % SAAR
  Mar-11 Feb-11 3M 6M 12M 12M Ago
Balance* € (935) € (2,052) € 964 € (1,299) € 1,822 € (4,496)
EXPORTS
All Exp 1.1% 1.6% 30.9% 17.6% 14.7% 20.0%
Food and Drinks 5.2% 2.7% 42.9% 24.8% 17.1% 13.8%
Raw materials 0.2% -0.3% 38.4% 26.6% 18.7% 32.3%
Other 0.8% 1.6% 29.8% 16.8% 14.4% 20.2%
  MFG 0.6% 3.0% 31.5% 13.4% 12.0% 19.1%
IMPORTS
All IMP 0.3% 0.8% 27.6% 21.0% 15.2% 19.0%
Food and Drinks 0.4% 0.3% 14.3% 16.9% 18.8% -0.3%
Raw materials 1.9% 3.3% 41.0% 37.4% 30.3% 46.6%
Other 0.2% 0.7% 27.9% 20.4% 14.2% 19.3%
  MFG 0.1% 2.1% 23.9% 12.1% 11.8% 17.8%
*Eur mlns; Mo or period average (SA, WDA)
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