Trade balance forecast to register a deficit on seasonal considerations

South Africa’s trade balance for October is forecast to register a deficit on seasonal considerations‚ according to Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan.

“The October trade balance is projected to reflect a deficit of R9.2bn‚ compared to the surplus of R6.7bn in September. In the month of October‚ imports typically rise substantially on seasonal considerations ahead of the festive season‚’ she says.

The trade balance data‚ which will be released on Wednesday‚ is among a slew of data due for release this week.

M3 money supply and private sector extension data for October are due for release on Tuesday as is the BER Business Confidence Index for the fourth quarter. Thursday sees the release of the Barclays manufacturing PMI for November as well as electricity consumption and production data for October.  Also due for release on Thursday are the NAAMSA new vehicle sales figures for November.

According to Kaplan‚ private sector credit extension is forecast to have risen by 6.8% year on year (y/y) in October versus 7.2% y/y in September. The rate of credit extension to households in particular‚ has steadily decelerated over the course of the year‚ from 4.5% y/y in 2015 to rates in the region of 1.0% y/y‚ she notes.

 “Both demand and supply side factors have accounted for the deceleration. Credit growth extended to corporates has similarly decelerated‚ from 15.9% y/y in 2015 to 12.8% y/y. This reflects weak economic growth and depressed business confidence‚” says Kaplan.

 She says that weaker rates of credit extension to households has been a restraining factor on new passenger vehicle sales.

 “Affordability has been additionally affected by substantial increases in new car prices‚ on the lagged effects of past rand depreciation. New passenger vehicle sales are down 11.2% y/y in the year so far and the November reading is likely to reflect a continued underperformance in sales.”

The manufacturing PMI gauge in November‚ Kaplan believes‚ is likely to have remained below the 50 mark separating expansion from contraction.

 “The October PMI survey signalled a deterioration of conditions in the sector at the start of the fourth quarter. Although some respondents had experienced an increase in export orders‚ domestic demand was deemed as particularly weak‚” she notes.