Strong exports helped Hungary’s foreign trade surplus expand 29% on the year to reach a record high of €8.1bn in 2015, statistics office KSH said in a preliminary estimate on February 8.
Although figures throughout the year have been suggesting for some time that a new all time high was on the way, the preliminary reading even beat market expectations. Analysts at RBI had been anticipating a surplus of around €7.6bn.
However, the eventual figure beat the previous record by more than €1bn. “The surplus is gigantic even though the final figure is likely to be revised downwardly later on by the KSH, just like in the previous years,” analysts at portfolio.hu note.
The figures suggest rising demand from abroad can continue to offer support to the slowing economy. The improvement stems from strong export growth and subdued dynamics of import growth, reflecting the positive effect of lower oil prices on the energy bill.
Exports rose 7.4% y/y to stand at €90.7bn last year; imports increased at the weaker pace of 5.6% to €82.6bn. In December, exports increased by 7.3% y/y, much stronger than the 1.1% annual imports growth. That resulted in a trade surplus of €643.2mn for the final month of the year, well above the €304.7mn recorded a year earlier.
The strong foreign trade data in the last quarter of 2015 bodes well the Q4 GDP release scheduled for February 12, RBI writes in a note. “We expect above consensus GDP growth (2.7% y/y vs. 2.5% y/y Bloomberg consensus).”
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