Russia: Accumulated trade surplus up to February reaches six-year low
March 30, 2016
Russia’s trade surplus totaled USD 7.9 billion in February, which was down from the USD 13.7 billion surplus observed in the same month last year. February’s reading followed a similar surplus in January, which was revised down (previously reported: USD 12.6 billion). The moving 12-month sum of the trade surplus up to February totaled USD 133 billion, which represented the smallest accumulated trade surplus in six years.
Exports of Russian merchandise were USD 20.8 billion in February, which was down 29.0% compared to the USD 29.2 billion registered in the same month last year. The contraction was softer compared to the 36.4% decrease reported in January. On the other side of the balance, imports totaled USD 12.9 billion in February, which were 17.0% lower over the USD 15.5 billion observed in February 2015. The contraction in imports was the softest in 16 months.
Global oil prices, and as consequence the price for Ural oils, have stabilized in recent weeks, following a rally from the lows seen in February. Oil prices rose amid investors’ optimism that the global oil glut, which has battered process since 2014, will start to abate this year. Major producers, like Russia and Saudi Arabia, have pledged to limit their production. For now, however, the oversupply continues, which is keeping prices from rising further. Urals oil traded at USD 35.1 per barrel at the end of March, which was 3.3% higher than at the end of February. A year-on-year comparison, however, continues to show that oil prices remain depressed.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist