The trade performance of the eurozone took a tumble during March 2016, creating concerns over the overall growth profile of the economic bloc.
According to the latest official data, the unadjusted eurozone trade surplus increased to €28.6 billion for March, which was up from €19.9 billion 12 months previously. However, this was attributable to a drop in imports, rather than a rise in exports.
Exports fell 1.3 per cent between February and March, while imports fell 2.7 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, the figures were down by three per cent and eight per cent respectively, potentially indicating weak consumer demand.
It means that both exports and imports fell for the first quarter overall, adding fuel to the suggestion that eurozone economic growth is likely to be moderate at best over the coming months, with industrial production slowing and retail sales down.
Consumer spending is expected to rise over the remainder of 2016 as unemployment declines steadily, though demand for eurozone exports from large developing economies is likely to weaken.