Exports from the 16-nation euro region gained a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent from February, when they rose 1.6 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. The trade deficit narrowed to 2.1 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in March from 2.9 billion euros in the previous month as imports increased 0.6 percent.
The euro-area economy is showing other signs of recovery from the deepest recession since World War II. A gauge of manufacturing activity rose to a six-month high in April and investors grew less pessimistic in May. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said on May 7 that he sees tentative signs of stabilization” after the ECB cut its key interest rate to a record low.
Euro-area exports to the U.K., the largest market for euro- area goods, declined 28 percent in the first two months of 2009 from a year earlier, while shipments to the U.S., the world’s biggest economy, fell 25 percent in that period, the statistics office said in today’s report. Exports to China, the euro region’s No. 3 trading partner, decreased 17 percent. The detailed country data are published with a one-month lag.
In Europe, retail sales unexpectedly declined in March. Industrial production in the euro-area economy plunged 20.2 percent in March from a year earlier, the biggest drop since the data were first compiled in 1986.
With companies still cutting output and jobs, the euro-area economy may struggle to gather strength after contracting 2.5 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months. That was the biggest slump in gross domestic product since the data were first compiled in 1995. The statistics office will release a breakdown of GDP next month.