N.H.’s 2009 export total down 18%

New Hampshire exports dropped to $240.4 million in December, bringing total exports for 2009 to $3.06 billion, down 18 percent from $3.7 billion in 2008.The December total was some $17 million less than $257.8 million in exports reported in November 2009, which was a lower number than in October.With the 18.1 percent annual decline New Hampshire ranked 24th among the 50 states in export growth in 2009.Last December’s state export numbers display a mix of overall economic conditions in the countries of foreign buyers and also their preferences, related to quality, design and price , for various goods made in New Hampshire from business equipment to consumer goods, parts and raw materials.State exports of manufactured goods — an important driver of jobs — accounted for 77 percent of all sales abroad in December. They totaled $185.2 million in December, a 12.2 percent decline from the previous month.Exports of non-manufactured goods rose 18 percent in December to $55.3 million.Meanwhile, forward-looking indicators signal that international economic conditions are expected to improve in the rest of the year. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently reported that the group’s composite leading economic indicator in December provided stronger signals of an expansionary economic outlook than last month.In particular, OECD’s leading indicator for the most advanced countries in the world — which tracks economic conditions nine months in advance — increased 0.9 point in December 2009 and was 10.1 points higher than in December 2008.Signs of expansion were evidenced in the major industrial countries. The euro area’s leading indicator increased by 0.9 percent in December, 12.2 points higher than a year ago. The leading indicator for Japan increased by 1.2 point in December, posting a reading of 8.1 points higher than a year ago. In the United Kingdom, the leading indicator increased by 0.9 point in December 2009 and was 11.5 points higher than a year ago. North of the border, the leading indicator for Canada increased by 1.1 point in December, 11.3 points higher than a year ago.The leading indicator for China decreased by 0.1 point in December 2009, but was 9.4 points higher than a year ago. The leading indicator for India was unchanged in December and 4.9 points higher than a year ago.These new numbers confirm the general view that global economic expansion is on track for the rest of 2010.Evangelos Simos, chief economist of the consulting and research firm e-forecasting.com, is editor for international affairs of the Journal of Business Forecasting and professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business & Economics. He can be reached at eosimos@e-forecasting.com.