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Trade surplus prints one-off pick-up in May

According to the CBR, the trade surplus in May advanced to USD 15.0bn (from USD 14.2bn in April), the second highest level this year. The scale of its contraction in annual terms also moderated, to 14.3%. Exports continued to decline, but the decline intensified to 9.3% YoY, while in MoM SA terms it returned to the black: +0.9%. Annual growth in imports plunged to the negative area, with a drop of 6.3% YoY (and of -2.4% MoM SA) from a rather strong increase of 10.1% YoY in the previous month.

The external trade balance statistics for May show a one-off, in our view, jump in the trade surplus mainly on the back of very low imports growth. The latter was expected (given preliminary non-CIS imports data) and could be linked to very negative calendar factor in May, that distorted economic data across-the-board. Hence we suggest that May’s tick up in trade surplus is temporal and expect its normalization in June.

In the next couple of months Russia’s trade balance is likely to remain supported by weak import dynamics, but situation will change as soon as expected monetary policy easing will support internal demand. But for the rest of 3Q13, import of services (especially, travel) will remain key factor determining weakening current account situation.

Maxim Oreshkin, Daria Isakova
VTB Capital analyst

CBR, dollar

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