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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Narrowed Sharply
by Tom Moeller November 9, 2006

Lower oil prices in September caused the U.S. foreign trade to reverse the prior month's run up and fall to $64.3B. The record August deficit was revised shallower to $69.0B. The latest figure also was shallower than Consensus expectations for a deficit of $66.0B.

Imports of petroleum products fell 10.5% (+10.4% y/y) as the per barrel price of crude oil fell 5.4% to $62.52 and the quantity of crude imported per day fell 4.8% (+14.0% y/y). The price of oil in October fell another five dollars per barrel.

Overall September imports of goods & services fell 2.1% m/m and fully reversed the August gain. Imports of nonpetroleum products, however, fell only 0.7% (+9.6% y/y) after a 2.5% August rise. Imports of capital goods fell just 1.5% (10.9% y/y) after two months of gain exceeding 2% and nonauto consumer goods imports rose 1.5% (11.2% y/y), the same as during August. Automotive imports fell 1.9% (+4.1% y/y) while imports of crude materials less fuels fell 8.1% (NSA, +12.1% y/y).

Total exports added 0.5% to the firm 2.4% August gain as capital goods exports jumped another 2.0% (22.1% y/y). Exports of civilian aircraft surged by more than one third (308.2% y/y) but computer exports fell (+6.5% y/y). Exports of telecommunications equipment rose 2.3% (15.5% y/y) while exports of nonauto consumer goods fell 3.2% (+9.0% y/y) after several months of strong gain.

Service exports slipped 0.1% (+6.5% y/y) as travel exports fell 0.9% (+2.5% y/y) and passenger fares dipped 0.5% (-2.3% y/y). Imports of services ticked up 0.2% (7.9% y/y) though passenger fares fell 1.3% (-0.9% y/y).

The U.S. trade deficit in goods with China deepened to another record $23.0B in September ($201.5B in 2005) as exports fell 2.7% (+44.5% y/y) but imports rose 3.3% (18.5% y/y). With the newly industrialized Asian countries, the balance of goods trade narrowed sharply m/m to a deficit of $0.7B (-$15.8B in 2005) as exports rose 3.8% (+22.5% y/y) and imports fell 6.8% (+8.2% y/y).

Twin Deficits, Twenty Years Later from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.

Foreign Trade  September August Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
U.S. Trade Deficit $64.3B $69.0B $65.0B
$716.7B $611.3B $494.9B
Exports - Goods & Services 0.5% 2.4% 15.8% 10.7% 13.4% 4.2%
Imports - Goods & Services -2.1% 2.0% 9.4% 13.0% 16.7% 8.3%
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