Eurozone trade surplus below expectations, while labour costs grow above inflation

The eurozone trade in goods balance in April 2013 was a €14.9bn surplus, down from a €22.9bn surplus in March 2013 and below analyst expectations of an €18.5bn surplus, but up from a €3.3bn surplus in April 2012, according to data from Eurostat.

Despite exports dropping by 0.8 per cent (seasonally adjusted), this follows growth in each of the previous four months, including a 2.6 per cent growth in March.

In the euro area, the strongest export growth was in food and drink (plus eight per cent) and the weakest in raw materials (minus six per cent).

Import growth was less impressive, thanks to low domestic demand. But it’s still growing, with imports rising by 0.5 per cent month-on-month, following falls of 1.2 per cent in March and 2.1 per cent in February.

The strongest import growth in the euro area was food and drink and chemicals (flat), and the weakest in energy (minus nine per cent).

Eurostat has also released labour costs data. Following a 2.0 per cent rise in labour costs per hour in the UK, labour costs rose by 1.6 per cent in the euro area and 1.9 per cent in EU27 in the first quarter of 2013 (slightly above May's eurozone inflation of 1.4 per cent).

The highest annual increases were in Romania (+8.6 per cent) and Estonia (+7.5 per cent), while the biggest decreases came from Slovenia (-3.7 per cent), Spain (-0.7 per cent) and Cyprus (-0.5 per cent).

Source: Eurostat