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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Stays Roughly Stable In November
by Tom Moeller January 13, 2011

The U.S. foreign trade deficit held roughly stable during November at $38.3B versus $38.4B in October, revised from $38.7B. Consensus forecasts had been for $41.0B. Exports gained 0.8% (14.9% y/y) following their 3.0% October jump while imports rose 0.6% (13.6% y/y) and reversed the October decline. In chained 2005 dollars, the deficit in goods improved to $45.2B as exports fell 0.6% (+12.2% y/y) and imports slipped 0.1% (+11.6% y/y).

Nominal exports of nonauto consumer goods were strongest posting a 7.0% rise (15.5% y/y) followed by foods, feeds and beverages, up 5.9% (17.3% y/y). Nonauto capital goods inched up 0.5% (14.0% y/y) but automotive vehicle exports fell 5.8% (+9.9% y/y). Other exports fell 11.4% (+26.4% y/y). Nominal imports of goods jumped 2.1% as higher prices lifted oil imports by 6.7% (11.2% y/y). The per barrel cost of imported crude oil was $76.71 versus $74.81 in October. Food, feed & beverages imports also were strong with a 2.1% increase (16.8% y/y). Strength over the last year has been due, however, to higher prices. In constant dollars food imports rose 4.0% y/y. Capital goods imports also were strong. They rose 2.5% (22.6% y/y) and reversed the prior month's decline. Nonauto consumer goods imports fell 2.2% (+9.2%) reversing the prior month's rise.

Services exports slipped 0.2% (+6.7% y/y) led by a 1.6% decline (+10.5% y/y) in travel exports. Passenger fares also fell 3.5% (+26.5% y/y). These declines were offset by a 2.5% increase (5.9% y/y) in the "other" category. Imports of services slipped 0.9% (+5.8% y/y). Travel imports fell 2.3% (+2.5% y/y) and passenger fares fell 1.8% (+8.6% y/y).

The goods deficit with China was roughly stable at $25.6B in November as exports jumped 28.6% y/y and imports were similarly strong, up 27.5% y/y. The trade deficit with Japan also held roughly stable m/m at $5.8B reflecting a 23.3% y/y rise in exports and a 16.2% rise in imports. The trade deficit with the European Union improved slightly to $7.1B as exports grew 12.2% y/y and imports rose 11.0%.

The international trade data can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures are available in the USINT database.

Expanding Variety of Goods Underscores Battle for Competitive Advantage from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas can be  found here.

When Tariff Cuts Don't Boost Import Variety also from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

Foreign Trade Nov Oct Sept Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
U.S. Trade Deficit $38.3B $38.4B $44.6B $35.3B(10/09) $374.9B $698.8B $702.1B
Exports-Goods & Services (m/m) 0.8% 3.0% 0.5% 14.9% -14.6% 11.5% 13.5%
Imports-Goods & Services 0.6 -0.8 -0.7 13.6 -23.3 8.0 6.3
   Petroleum 6.7 -7.4 -0.4 11.2 -44.0 37.0 9.4
   Nonpetroleum -0.1 0.2 -1.2 16.0 -20.9 1.5 4.8
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