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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Widens Sharply
by Tom Moeller  January 11, 2013

The U.S. foreign trade deficit during November deepened to $48.9B from little-revised $42.2B in October. A $41.3B deficit had been expected. The deterioration occurred as imports surged 3.8% (2.5% y/y) against a 1.0% rise (3.3% y/y) in exports. In chained 2005 dollars, the deficit in goods deteriorated to $51.9B, its deepest since April 2008. Real imports jumped 5.5% (3.5% y/y) while real exports rose 2.2% (1.9% y/y).

Real imports less oil jumped 6.3% last month (6.1% y/y) led by an 11.3% surge (6.0% y/y) in real nonauto consumer goods. Real foods, feeds & beverage imports followed with an 8.1% jump (2.8% y/y) while real auto vehicles & parts rose 6.3% (11.4% y/y). Real capital goods imports rose 1.2% (4.5% y/y). Nominal services imports rose 0.4% (1.1% y/y) as passenger fares rose 1.4% (4.2% y/y) but travel imports were unchanged (3.7% y/y). The value of petroleum imports fell 2.5% (-8.8% y/y) as the price of crude oil fell to $97.45 from $99.75. The quantity of petroleum product imports dropped 5.2% m/m and were down 8.7% y/y.

In November, exports in constant dollars increased 2.2% (1.9% y/y) led by a 6.4% real jump (9.2% y/y) in autos. That gain was accompanied by a 4.1% rise (-1.6% y/y) in real industrial supplies, a 2.0% increase (3.3% y/y) in capital goods volumes and a 0.6% uptick (2.1% y/y) in real nonauto consumer goods. Foods, feeds & beverage exports fell 3.6% (-3.3% y/y) when adjusted for prices. Services exports inched up 0.2% (5.8% y/y) although passenger fares surged 4.0% (7.4% y/y). Travel exports rose 0.8% (10.8% y/y).

By country, the November goods trade deficit with mainland China eased m/m to $29.0B. Exports to China rose 6.1% y/y and U.S. imports increased  7.6% y/y. With Japan, the deficit fell to $6.2 billion. U.S. exports rose 1.6% y/y while imports fell 2.3% y/y. The deficit with the European Union deepened sharply to $12.2B, its deepest since October 2007. U.S. exports fell 2.9% y/y but imports surged 5.9%.

The international trade data can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures are available in the USINT database. The expectations figures are from the Action Economics consensus survey, which is carried in the AS1REPNA. 


Foreign Trade (Curent Dollars) Nov Oct Sep Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
U.S. Trade Deficit $48.9B $42.1B $40.3B $48.8B
$559.9B $494.7B $381.3B
Exports (%) 1.0 -3.5 3.1 3.3 14.2 16.7 -14.5
Imports 3.8 -2.1 1.5 2.5 13.9 19.5 -23.0
  Petroleum -2.5 7.2 0.6 -8.8 30.7 32.5 -44.0
  Nonpetroleum goods 6.2 -4.4 2.2 6.0 12.1 20.8 -20.9
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