According to the CBR, the trade surplus in August significantly increased to USD 17.1bn (vs. USD 12.6bn in August, USD 11.1bn in July and USD 14.1bn in June). Exports kept rising and added 2.8% MoM SA (bringing trend growth to an impressive 25%) and 0.5% YoY to USD 44.0bn. Merchandise imports decreased 3.8% MoM SA and 2.3% YoY, to USD 26.9bn.
In separate news, according to the Federal Customs, October non-CIS imports jumped 8.1% YoY (+3.3% MoM SA) to USD 26.0bn, with ex-volatile components advancing 12.1% (+4.7% MoM SA) to USD 23.9bn and imports in investment goods increasing 13.8% to USD 14.1bn. Furthermore, volatile items (ships, planes, etc.) decreased 22.5% YoY (-2.9% MoM SA) to print USD 2.1bn.
The recent reading proved that exports finally rebounded in September on strong oil and natural gas exports (according to customs’ data, crude oil exports added 8.5% YoY in September following three months of negative growth and natural gas increased 10.1% YoY). Moreover, import volumes slid to a 12-month low in September on weak cars and investment goods imports. Taking these two factors together, the trade balance surplus significantly improved and finally exceeded the summer’s levels.
Customs’ data on October imports excluding the CIS showed strong results. Importantly, while volatile items declined, growth was concentrated in non-volatile items, which added across the board: in particular, car imports increased from -9.2% YoY to +3.9% YoY, as the September WTO effect was a one-off. We think it is interesting that investment goods have rebounded strongly, further confirmation after strong PMIs that October data might be better than expected. However, we are still sticking to our negative stance on the growth outlook in Russia. Imports are set to rise further this year due to seasonal factors. This, coupled with weaker global sentiment and lower oil prices, would likely trigger RUB weakness.