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Trade surplus in December expanded further to USD 17.1bn

According to the CBR, the FY12 trade balance printed a surplus of USD 193.9bn, which is 2.2% lower than in 2011, with USD 529bn in exports (up 1.4% YoY) and USD 335bn in imports (up 3.6% YoY). Meanwhile, the trade surplus in December edged up to USD 17.1bn (from USD 15.4bn in November). Exports declined 5.4% YoY, down for the second month in a row (and slowed to 0.7% MoM SA), to USD 48.6bn. Imports advanced 2.4% YoY (after a decline of 1.0% YoY in November) and 2.6% MoM SA to USD 31.4bn.

The recent reading implies that trade balance growth is on a downwards trend. Even with slightly higher oil prices in 2012 vs. 2011, the full-year trade surplus narrowed a bit as imports added more vigorously than exports. Hence, without rising oil prices Russia’s trade balance is set to shrink in the medium term, putting pressure on RUB. At the same time, and given the overall bleak economic picture, we do not expect imports to add actively in the quarters to come. However, the favourable base effect might underpin the growth in imports.

As far as January is concerned, we might see trade balance volumes almost unchanged near USD 18bn, on the back of slower imports and progress in oil quotes (average Brent stood at USD 112/bbl in the first month of the current year vs. USD 109.2/bbl and USD 109.3/bbl in the previous months). 

Maxim Oreshkin, Daria Isakova
VTB Capital analyst

dollar, CBR, ruble

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