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Economy in Brief

April U.S. Trade Deficit Deepened Less Than Expected
by Tom Moeller June 9, 2006

During April the U.S. foreign trade deficit deepened to $63.4B from a little revised $61.9B in March. The deficit fell short of Consensus expectations for $65.1B.

The latest deficit was the deepest since the near-record in January of $66.2B. During the first four months of 2006 the foreign trade deficit averaged $63.5B versus a $56.3B deficit averaged during the first four months of 2005.

Total exports slipped 0.2% in April after the 1.8% pop during March. Nonauto consumer goods exports led the decline with a 3.5% slide (+5.0% y/y) which reflected lower apparel & appliance (+12.2% y/y) exports that had been strong. Capital goods exports also slipped 0.5% (+9.2% y/y) while exports of advanced technology products fell 13.5% (NSA, +6.0% y/y). Exports of industrial supplies & materials rose 0.2% (13.4% y/y) and automotive exports rose 1.0% (8.9% y/y).

April imports rose just 0.7% though a 6.4% (22.5% y/y) rise in petroleum imports wholly reflected higher prices. In constant dollars petroleum imports fell 3.7% (-5.2% y/y). The per day quantity of all energy-related petroleum product imports fell 1.5% (-5.1% y/y) but crude oil prices rose 8.7% (26.9% y/y) to an average $56.82 per bbl.

Imports of capital goods ticked up 0.3% (8.8% y/y) and are up 4.7% year to date. Imports of advanced technology products fell 15.1% (NSA, +2.9% y/y) and imports of nonauto consumer goods fell 3.5% (+5.0% y/y).

The US trade deficit with China deepened to $17.0B ($201.6B for 2005) while the trade deficit with Japan deepened to $7.8B ($82.7B in 2005). The trade deficit with the Asian NICs rose to a still modest $0.7B ($15.9B in 2005). Growth in both exports & imports with the Asian NICs has been firm. The deficit with the European Union eased to $9.4B ($122.4B in 2005).

Foreign Trade April March Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Trade Deficit $63.4B $61.9B $57.0B (4/05) $716.7B $611.3B $494.9B
  Exports - Goods & Services -0.2% 1.8% 9.8% 10.7% 13.4% 4.2%
  Imports - Goods & Services 0.7% 0.7% 10.3% 13.0% 16.7% 8.3%
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