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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Lifted By Autos & Gasoline
by Tom Moeller June 14, 2004

Retail sales jumped 1.2% last month following the little revised 0.6% decline in April. Consensus expectations had been for a 1.1% rise.

Motor vehicle dealers' sales surged 5.9% as unit sales of light vehicles rose 8.7% to 17.84M.

Sales at gasoline service stations jumped 4.0% (22.5% y/y). Average gasoline prices rose 10.3% m/m in May to $1.98/gal.

Excluding motor vehicles & parts dealers, the 0.7% m/m gain in retail sales about equaled Consensus expectations. Less gasoline, however, nonauto sales rose just 0.3% (8.6% y/y) following a 0.1% dip in April.

The slowdown in sales was dominated by lower sales at food services & drinking places (-0.3%) and a 1.4% decline in building materials. Sales at general merchandise stores recovered 1.3% (+8.4% y/y) versus a 0.7% April decline. Clothing and accessory store sales rose 0.9% (+6.7% y/y) following a 2.3% April slump.Sales of furniture/home furnishings & electronics/appliances dipped 0.3% (+8.1% y/y) after a 0.7% April rise.

  May April Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Retail Sales & Food Services 1.2% -0.6% 8.9% 5.4% 2.5% 3.1%
  Excluding Autos 0.7% -0.1% 9.8% 5.2% 3.2% 3.1%
U.S. Trade Deficit Deeper Still
by Tom Moeller June 14, 2004

The U.S. foreign trade deficit deepened to another record in April of $48.33B versus the revised deficit of $46.57B a month earlier. Consensus expectations had been for a deficit of $45.0B.

Total imports rose a modest 0.2% in April following the downwardly revised 3.1% jump in March. The moderation was due to a m/m decline in the quantity of oil imports. The value of petroleum products imports fell 10.2% (+18.0% y/y).

Imports of non-petroleum goods rose 1.7% (14.6% y/y), the third strong monthly gain. Imports of capital goods rose 1.9% (14.0% y/y) following a 3.6% March increase. A 1.6% (15.1% y/y) rise in imports of non-auto consumer goods followed the 8.1% March jump.

Exports fell 1.5% following two months of strong gain and reflected dips across the board.

By country, the US trade deficit with China deepened sharply m/m to $12.0B ($124.1B in 2003). Exports fell 19.4% m/m (+28.1% y/y). The US trade deficit with Japan eased to $6.4B ($66.0B in 2003) and the deficit with the European Union eased to $9.2B ($93.1B in 2003).

"Globalization: Threat or Opportunity for the U.S. Economy" from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Foreign Trade April Mar Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Trade Deficit $48.3B $46.6B $42.5B(4/03) $496.5B $421.7B $362.7B
  Exports - Goods & Services -1.5% 3.1% 15.5% 4.6% -3.1% -6.0%
  Imports - Goods & Services 0.2% 3.1% 14.9% 8.5% 2.1% -5.5%
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