BUSINESS SHORTS

Foreign trade surplus surprises analysts

FOREIGN trade results for September were a pleasant surprise for analysts. Slovak foreign trade reached a surplus of Sk4.7 billion (€142 million) in September, while the market had expected the trade gap to reach around Sk3.5 billion, the SITA newswire wrote.

The figures on industrial output from September are good news because they confirm that carmakers returned to their previous high pace of production, said ING analyst Lucia Šrámková. At the same time, the figures show surprisingly high growth for the electrical engineering industry.

ČSOB analyst Marek Gábriš said the unexpected 3.6-percent year-on-year drop in imports was also good news.

"It is quite a surprising result," he said. "The price of crude oil has been continually growing, although it is offset by the falling value of the dollar. On the other hand, domestic demand should contribute to the import of consumer goods, though not dangerously."

Still, more concrete data is needed to get a more detailed analysis, Gábriš added.

Another surprise was a revision in foreign trade data for the previous months. This year's monthly foreign trade figures improved even further after revisions caused by a change to the methodology, Šrámková said.

Šrámková estimates the trade deficit in 2007 was around Sk16 billion, and the previous estimates were at Sk33 billion.

"So the trade balance will have its best result since 1995," she said.

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