UPDATE 2-Auto sales buoy Mexico Nov exports, imports reflect demand

Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:51am EST

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MEXICO CITY, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Mexican manufactured exports
rose in November on strong auto sales to the United States, its
top trade partner, while higher imports signaled healthy
domestic demand. 
    Mexico posted a $362 million trade deficit in November,
adjusted for seasonal swings, narrowing from a revised $803.9
million deficit for October, the national statistics agency said
on Thursday.
    In non-seasonally adjusted terms, Mexico posted a trade
deficit of $1.273 billion, compared with a slightly revised
$1.646 billion deficit for October.
    "The November trade balance was on the lower side of
expectations ... but the good news is that the reason is because
of higher imports of intermediate and capital goods, which is
good for economic activity," said Pedro Tuesta, an analyst at
the 4Cast consultancy in Washington.
    Total exports rose 1.3 percent last month compared with
November of 2011, driven by non-oil sales to the United States.
Auto sales to the United States continued to bolster Latin
America's second-biggest economy but exports of plastic, rubber,
and steel also contributed to the monthly rise.
    Total imports rose 4.7 percent on an annual base as oil
imports surged 22.2 percent. While Mexico is a major oil
producer, it lacks the capacity to refine much of it, having to
ship crude abroad and then purchase it back as gasoline.
    "On the export side the rebounds come from manufacturing
exports, where auto exports and non-auto manufacturing exports
showed strong rebounds from weak October numbers," Tuesta added.
    Mexico sends nearly 80 percent of its exports to the United
States.
 
    Mexican auto production rose 14.7 percent in November from a
year earlier, while exports rose 10.4 percent, the Mexican Auto
Industry Association said earlier this month. The group sees
auto exports climbing about 4 percent next year to an all-time
high.  
    Non-oil, capital goods and consumer imports underlined
strong demand, a good sign for the Mexican economy, which is
seen expanding by 3.9 percent in 2012 and then slowing next year
to 3.5 percent.
    Mexico's central bank is expected to hold its benchmark
interest rate steady at 4.5 percent through 2013, after
inflation eased more than expected in early December and dropped
below a 4 percent tolerance limit.
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