Forex Fundamental Analysis

What Is Balance Of Trade & What Impact Does It Have On The Forex market?


The Balance Of Trade AKA. BOT is essentially the difference or variance in a nation’s export and import. When understood correctly, this indicator can help us in evaluating the relative robustness of any given economy compared to the other ones. 

Understanding Balance Of Trade

In the simplest of analogies, consider a scenario where a rice seller sells $1000 worth of rice to other grain sellers in the market over a month. Within that month, if he had purchased $800 worth of goods like vegetables, fruits, etc. from the other vendors, his Balance Of Trade would be $200.

Here, in this example, the market is the entire world, and the rice seller is equivalent to a nation. $1000 is the net worth of the exported goods and services that went out of the country, whereas the $800 is the net worth of the imported goods and services that came into the country. In this case, $200 is the trade surplus that the country is having.

Therefore, Balance Of Trade can be considered as a difference between what goes out (exports) and what comes in (imports) over a given time frame. And depending on whether exports or imports are greater, a nation is said to be running a Trade Surplus or Trade Deficit, respectively. Fundamentally, an Export is when a foreign resident or nation purchases an in-country produced good or service, and an Import is when an in-country citizen purchases goods or services from foreign.

How is the Balance Of Trade calculated?

In the previous article, we understood the formula of a country’s current account. That is, Current Account = (Exports – Imports) + Net Income + Net Current Transfers.

In the above formula, (Exports – Imports) is the Balance of Trade.

How Can This Economic Indicator Be Used For Analysis?

Investors can use Balance Of Trade numbers to ascertain whether the overall economic activity of a nation has grown or slowed down concerning the previous month’s/quarter’s/year’s numbers. For example, a country which has seen a trade surplus for let’s say over ten years, and due to some calamities, its exports got hit. The nation might enter into a trade deficit or a reduced trade surplus. Such a relative comparison can help investors to ascertain whether a country’s economy is booming or slowing down.

In an absolute sense, a Trade surplus or Trade deficit, as discussed, cannot tell in entirety. But it will definitely give us a macroeconomic picture of an economy’s health and what the nation has undergone in the present business cycle. Let’s assume a country is a major exporter of oil for which it receives a majority of its income. If the production of oil is doubled, automatically there will be an increase in the demand for that currency worldwide. This will result in an appreciation of that country’s currency.

Not just this, but the Balance Of Trade can also point towards many things like an increase in employment or an oncoming expansion or recession when viewed with correct perspective and analysis.

Impact of Balance Of Trade on Currency

By simply looking at the BOT numbers, we cannot conclude whether a nation is experiencing growth or slow down straight away. Because the Balance Of Trade only projects a partial picture and not the whole picture.

A developing country might want to import more goods and services from abroad, which increases the competition in their respective markets. Thereby they keep the prices and inflation low. During these periods, that country will have a Trade Deficit. To an outsider, it will only look like the country is consuming more than it is producing. So this scenario can be wrongly assumed as the country’s economy is slowing down. But in reality, what if the country is experiencing a trade deficit for the first six months and a trade surplus for the next six months?

Developed nations like the United States and the U.K. have experienced long periods of trade deficits against developing and emerging economies like China and Japan, who have maintained trade surpluses for long times. Hence, the time frame, business cycles, the relative situation with other countries all factor in to give a correct interpretation to the BOT.

But in general, most of the time, an increase in the Balance of Trade number is good for Currency. It is a proportional indicator, meaning. Lower or negative Balance of Trade numbers relative to previous periods signals currency depreciation and vice versa.

Balance of Trade & Balance of Payments

BOT is a major component of a Nation’s BOPs, i.e., Balance Of Payments. Balance Of Payments, ideally, should always equate to zero, giving us a complete account of all things traded in and out of an economy. A nation can have a surplus while having a trade deficit. This happens when other components of Balance Of Payments like Financial Account or Capital Account run into large surpluses.

But in general, countries prefer to have a trade surplus, and it is obvious. A country in net terms receiving a gain or profit for their goods and services would mean that the people of that country will experience higher wealth, and it would automatically result in a higher standard of living. And also, by continually exporting, they would develop a competitive edge in the global market. This would also increase employment within the nation, which, in general, is favorable for the nation. But as said, it is always not necessary for this condition to be true. It depends on what goals the country has in mind for future short term deficits also matters.

Hence Balance Of Trade is one of the important indicators for analysts to ascertain a country’s economic activity and current health of an economy.

Economic Reports

Since the Balance of Trade is about imports and exports, data for the same is publicly available on a monthly basis for all the countries. The reports are released in the United States by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The units would be typically in millions of dollars for most reports and for most nations. The popularly used reports are typically seasonally adjusted to give a more accurate report.

Sources of Balance Of Trade

To get the latest information about this economic indicator for the United States, you can refer to this link. To know all the diverse components involved in Balance Of Payments and International Trade, you can refer to this page from The Bureau Of Economic Analysis.

Impact Of ‘BOT’ News Release On The Price Charts

Now that we know the meaning of trade balance and how it affects the economy, we shall extend our discussion and understand how it impacts any of the currencies after the news announcement is made.

As we can see in the below image, the Trade Balance indicator has the least effect on currency (yellow indicator implies the least impact on currency). Hence, this might not cause extreme volatility in the currency pair after the news release. It is still important to understand the effect and look at how we can position ourselves in the market in such scenarios.

For illustration, we have chosen the New Zealand Dollar in our example, and we will analyze the latest’ Trade Balance’ data of the same. The data shows that Trade Balance was increased by 44M as compared to the previous reading, which is said to be positive for the currency. But let us see how the market reacted to this data after the announcement was made.

NZD/JPY | Before The Announcement - (Feb 26th, 2019)

The below chart shows that the overall trend is down, which means the New Zealand dollar is very weak. As said in the above paragraph that changes in Trade Balance of a country do not have much impact on the currency, so better than expected data can only cause a reversal of the trend. However, if the data is retained at previous reading, we can expect a continuation of the downtrend, and volatility will be more on the downside. We will be looking to trade the above currency on the ‘short’ side if the Trade Balance data is bad for the country since even positive data cannot push the currency higher.

NZD/JPY | After The Announcement - (Feb 26th, 2019)

After the news announcement, we see that the price crashed below the moving average, reacting to the not-so-good numbers of Trade Balance for New Zealand. The market participants were expecting much better Trade Balance data, but after seeing that it was increased by mere 44M, they were disappointed and hence sold New Zealand dollars. We can take advantage of this change in volatility by taking risk-free ‘short’ positions in the pair soon after the market falls below the moving average. We can hold on to our trade as long as the price is below the moving average and exit once we see signs of reversal.

GBP/NZD | Before The Announcement - (Feb 26th, 2019)

Here we can see that the New Zealand dollar is on the right-hand side, and since the market is in a downtrend, the currency is strong. In this situation, a risk-free way to trade this pair is by going ‘long’ if the Trade balance numbers are not good for the pair and after trend reversal signals. Since the downtrend is not very strong, we can take ‘short’ positions only if it breaks the recent ‘lows’ and shows signs of trend continuation.

GBP/NZD | After The Announcement - (Feb 26th, 2019)

After the numbers are out, we see the positive reaction for the New Zealand dollar as the numbers were better than last time, but it could not take it lower. Since the data was weak, we can ‘long’ positions in the pair once the price makes a ‘higher low’ after crossing above the moving average.

EUR/NZD | Before The Announcement - (Feb 26th, 2019)

The above chart represents the currency pair of EUR/NZD, which shows similar characteristics as that of the NZD/JPY pair but in reverse as the New Zealand dollar is on the right-hand side. In this pair, the New Zealand dollar is extremely weak, and we also the price is above the moving average showing the strength of the uptrend. Therefore taking’ short’ positions in this pair is not advisable even if the Trade Balance data is good for the New Zealand economy, as it is a less impactful event, and the reversal might not last. A better option would be to go ‘long’ in this pair.

EUR/NZD | After The Announcement - (Feb 26th, 2019)

After the news announcement, we see a red candle, and the price bounces off the moving average, continuing its uptrend. Since the data was not very positive, the market continues its uptrend, and thereby the New Zealand dollar weakens further. This could be the perfect setup for a ‘buy’ since all parameters are in our favor. The volatility here expands on the upside, after the news release.

That’s about the Balance of Trade and its impact on the Forex currency pairs. We just wanted to show how the markets get impacted after the news release. It is always advisable to combine these fundamental factors with technical analysis as well to ace the Forex markets. Cheers.

Forex Fundamental Analysis

Comprehending ‘Current Account to GDP Ratio’ Economic Indicator


The Current Account balance represents one half of the nation’s Balance Of Payments. This number typically ranges in billions and trillions. When trying to comprehend such big numbers, a strong understanding of what do these numbers represent in actuality is paramount.

What is the Current Account Balance?

The equations given below represent what Current Account balance is composed of and how it contributes to the nation’s Balance Of Payments

The current account balance is the sum of the Balance Of Trade, Net Income, and Net Current Transfers. Fundamentally, the Balance Of Trade represents the difference between total exports and imports of goods and services for that nation.

Balance Of Trade: The Balance Of Trade is the difference between the revenue generated by export and the expenditure incurred by the imports. A nation that exports more than what it imports is said to be running a trade surplus. Conversely, a country whose imports exceed its exports is said to be running a trade deficit. A country that is having a trade deficit is said to have a negative Balance Of Trade, and a trade surplus country is said to have a positive Balance Of Trade.

Net Income: It represents the income received by a country for its investments in areas like real estate or holding in foreign shares, etc.

Net Current Transfers: The net current transfer represents one-directional transfer between one Nation to another without any equivalent financial item in return. This may take the form of worker remittances, charitable fund transfer, or even relief funds, etc.

All these three components are combined to form what is called the current account balance of a nation.  A country with a negative current account balance is a net borrower from the rest of the world, and that which has a positive current account balance is a net lender to the rest of the world.

For example, the United States, which is running a negative current account balance, indicates that the nation is importing or consuming more than it is exporting or producing, thereby sending trillions of dollars out of the nation in exchange for equivalent goods and services.

Current Account & Capital Account

The Capital Account reflects the opposite of what current account balance shows. If a country is importing commodities by sending out money, it must receive an equivalent amount of money in one form or another from a certain set of sources. The Capital Account reflects those sources.

A country receives capital when its domestic assets are purchased by foreign bodies. The same country also spends money when it purchases foreign assets using domestic currency. The total of these both may result in a positive or negative capital account. A country running a negative current account balance must have, by definition, a positive equivalent capital account as the total of the entire Balance Of Payments should equal to zero.

How is the Current Account Balance to GDP calculated?

The current account balance, which often ranges in billions and trillions, is expressed as a percentage of GDP. The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases the current account balance quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. The World Bank publishes current account balance as a percentage of GDP for all the nations.

Below is the snapshot of the current account balance as a percentage of GDP for the United States published by the World Bank on their official website.

How can the Current Account Balance to GDP be Used for Analysis?

The current account balance is an entire country’s economic figure, and when calculated as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product GDP, we can draw a lot of conclusions about the current economic situation within the nation.

We have to also keep in mind that simply a negative current account balance or its percentage does not mean that the economy is stagnating nor a positive current account balance indicates a growing economy. The United States has been running in a negative current account balance since 1980.

The current account balance is one part of the Balance Of Payments, and when we look in the absolute sense, we will not be able to assess the nation’s economic situation properly. Instead, if we look at the percentage concerning the previous number, we might be able to know whether the economic conditions have improved or declined concerning earlier periods.

For example, in the US, a $1.1 billion reduction of the current account deficit in the third quarter of 2019 concerning the previous quarter was mainly due to increased income and reduced goods deficits, as mentioned by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Impact On The Currency

The Current Account balance reflects the overall economic activity and the revenue circulation in and out of the country. As a percentage of GDP, it can give us a relative comparison on a global scale with other competing nations. In general, it is a proportional indicator. Meaning, an increase in the results in currency appreciation on a relative basis with previous periods and vice-versa.

On a relative basis, the measured changes in the percentages can help us understand which country’s economic activity has grown or contracted. Such macro-economic indicators are very useful for many people. For instance, Governments can take policy decisions or put appropriate pressure or give support to certain businesses, either increase or decrease economic activity.

Traders can also use these indicators to predict currency movement and may decide to invest. Large and unpredictable movements in the current account balance can shake the confidence of investors in either direction, i.e., positively or negatively.

Sources of Current Account Balance to GDP

The United States Bureau of Economic Analysis releases quarterly reports of the Current Account Balance numbers. It can be found here.

Also, the World Bank releases Current Account Balance as a percentage of GDP on its official website for many countries. Those numbers can be found here.

Impact Of ‘CA To GDP’ Announcement On The Price Charts

In this section of the article, we shall see how the Current Account % of GDP will impact the currency and cause a change in the volatility. We will be analyzing the Current Account % of GDP data of New Zealand by observing the changes in the data from previous reading to the current reading.

The Current Account % of GDP data is released every quarter, and thus we will have four readings in a year. The latest data available to us is of the 3rd quarter released in the month of December and the 4th quarter data will be released in March. As we can see below, this indicator has the least impact on the currency (Yellow Implies Least Impact), and we should not expect much volatility after the news announcement.

Below is the Current Account % of GDP of December quarter, which is released by the ‘Statistics New Zealand’ agency, which collects information from people and organizations through censuses and surveys. It is also known as ‘Stats NZ’ and is a government department. The data shows that the Current Account % of GDP was increased by 0.1%, which we will now see what impact it created on the charts.

NZD/CAD | Before The Announcement - (Dec 17th, 2019)

Before the news announcement market is in a clear downtrend and is attempting for a pullback. When we are talking about the impact of the news, we know that since it is a less impactful event, a better than expected result would mean a partial reversal of the trend. If the numbers are not that good for the ‘New Zealand Dollar’ we should expect a continuation of the current trend.

Thus, from a trading point of view, it is better to join the current downtrend if the Current Account % of GDP is maintained somewhere around the previous reading. We should not be going ‘long’ in the market even if the data is good for ‘New Zealand Dollar’ since the impact of the indicator is not high, and then the rally will not last.

NZD/CAD | After The Announcement - (Dec 17th, 2019)

The Current Account % to GDP was increased by 0.1%, which is mildly positive for the New Zealand Dollar. We see the initial reaction of the market where the candle barely closes in green. The volatility witnessed is also very less due to the above-mentioned reason.

Therefore, we can trade this currency pair on the ‘short’ side, after the price goes below the moving average line, which will our confirmation sign for the trend continuation. Since the news outcome was not good for the New Zealand Dollar, the downtrend could continue further, and we should be able to easily make a profit on the downside.

NZD/CHF | Before The Announcement - (Dec 17th, 2019)


NZD/CHF | After The Announcement - (Dec 17th, 2019)

The above chart represents the currency pair of NZD/CHF, which shows similar characteristics as that of the NZD/CAD currency pair. In this pair, we can notice that the news release did not even take the price above the moving average line, which means the data is very weak when compared to Swiss Franc. The market became volatile after the news release and took the price down. Thus, this is a much better pair for taking a ‘short’ trade with an amazing risk to reward ratio. We can also continue to hold on to our profits as long as the price is below the moving average.

EUR/NZD | Before The Announcement - (Dec 17th, 2019)

EUR/NZD | After The Announcement - (Dec 17th, 2019)

In this currency pair, the New Zealand Dollar is on the right side, so we see an uptrend illustrating the weakness of the currency. Since the Current Account % of GDP data was slightly positive for the New Zealand Dollar, we see a red candle after the news announcement, but later it was fully overshadowed by the green candle. This means the Current Account numbers were not good enough to take the currency lower.

What we see after the news release is a ‘Bullish Engulfing’ candlestick pattern, which is essentially a trend continuation pattern. Thus, once the price goes above the moving average line, we can enter for’ longs’ in this pair with a stop loss below the red candle and aiming for a new ‘higher high.

That’s about the Current Account To GDP ratio Economic Indicator and its impact on the Forex market. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below. All the best.