Based on preliminary data, world trade volume expanded by 5.3% in September 2009, from the previous month, following a revised decline of 1.5% in August (revised up from a decline of 2.0%), according to data published today by the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. The September figure is the largest increase recorded so far in the series, which started in 1991. Export and import volumes in all major regions have contributed to the September increase, the Eurozone’s contribution being relatively modest. In September, world trade was still 14% below the peak level reached in April 2008, a result of the unprecedented drops in November 2008 up to January 2009. On the other hand, world trade was 8% above the trough reached in May 2009. World industrial production rose by 0.8% in September.
The CPB said monthly trade figures are volatile and focus on ‘momentum’ is therefore preferable. In the third quarter, world trade was up by 4.3% from the second, one of the highest quarterly figures in the series - - the highest so far is 4.5% in the three months up to February 2000. In July, momentum was positive for the first time since the three months up to May 2008. The recent rise contrasts sharply with the record drop of 12.3% that occurred in the three months up to February 2009 - - relative to the preceding three months.
World trade growth is still on a sharp downward trend, when computed from twelve months’ averages over the preceding twelve month’s average. Trend growth was deeply negative in September: –14.4%, the lowest figure in the series so far.
World trade prices
World trade prices measured in US dollars increased by 0.6% in September relative to the previous month, after having increased by 2.0% in July (revised up from 1.0%). In September, energy prices declined by 4.9%, after having increased sharply in August (+9.8%).
In the third quarter, world trade prices were up by 3.7% from the second. This is the fourth consecutive month of rising price momentum. This contrasts sharply with the strong price declines that occurred late 2008. As in August, the rebound of prices in September was on account of energy (+14.5%) and other raw materials (+9.0%).
World industrial production
On the basis of preliminary data, the CPB said world industrial production rose by 0.8% in September (relative to the previous month, following a rise of 0.7% in August (unrevised). In June, the series, which started in 1991, underwent a record increase. Nevertheless, in September, production was still 10% below the peak level reached in February 2008, due to the unprecedented drops in November 2008 up to January 2009. It was however 5% above the trough reached in March 2009.
In the third quarter, world industrial production was up 2.9% from the second. This rise differs greatly from the record drop of 6.8% that occurred in the three months up to February 2009 - - relative to the previous three months. Most noticeable in the three months up to September are the continued production growth in Japan (+7.0%) and emerging Asia (+3.9%), while on the basis of momentum, US industrial production is now also seen to be rising (+1.4%), for the first time since March 2008.
Monthly increases in industrial production have been rather stable at around 0.9% since April. This translates to an annual rate of over 10%, way above the average of 3% per year during 1991-2008.
An explanatory note on our world trade series is available here.
The trade database is available in xls-format is available here.