World Trade Momentum Wobbles After Best Month in Seven Years

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News

Global trade momentum slipped in February, easing after recording its best month in more than seven years.

According to a monthly report from the Dutch Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, momentum — based on three-month on three-month change — slowed to 2.3% from 2.6% at the start of the year. The January reading was the strongest since August 2010.

Trade Wobble

The more volatile monthly figure showed a 0.4% decline in February, though that followed a 1.2% jump the previous month.

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Trade and global economic growth may struggle to match the performance seen in 2017, with downside risks emerging in recent months, most obviously in the trade dispute between the United States and China. The International Monetary Fund highlighted it as a potential threat just last week.

In its World Economic Outlook, IMF kept its forecasts for global growth this year and next at 3.9% but warned that the “first shots in a potential trade war have now been fired.”

“Rising financial vulnerabilities, increasing trade and geopolitical tensions, and historically high global debt threaten global growth prospects,” its main advisory committee said days later.