The recent reading implies that the trade surplus was hovering near the USD 15bn mark last autumn, which is higher than during the summer but lagging 1H12. While volumes of both imports and exports were lower in November, the decrease in the volume of imports was greater, expanding the trade surplus a bit. Weaker exports were due to a contraction in natural gas and ferrous metals supplies (even given both YoY and MoM SA calculations). In addition, the drop in imports volume flags, in particular, the weak car imports that month. We see bleak prospects for import growth in 1Q13, amid worsening economic conditions; that would be beneficial for the trade balance and RUB over the coming months.
Taking into consideration the CBR’s preliminary estimate of BoP for FY12, we calculate that the trade surplus might reach USD 18.6bn in December (with USD 50bn in exports and USD 31.4bn in imports) which would be the third largest result for 2012 (to be published mid-February).