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Economy in Brief

U.S. Current Account Deficit Declines Again
by Tom Moeller  March 14, 2013

The U.S. current account deficit lessened at the end of last year to $110.4B from $112.4B in Q3. A deeper deficit of $113.0B had been expected. The easing left the deficit to GDP ratio at 2.8%, its least in roughly three years. For all of last year the deficit totaled $475.0B and was a stable 3.0% of GDP. Exports of goods grew just 4.5% against a lessened 2.8% rise in imports.

Total exports gained 1.0% (2.8% y/y) last quarter although goods exports fell 0.7% (+2.0% y/y), the second consecutive quarterly decline as economic growth abroad waned. Services exports increased 1.2% (5.7% y/y). Travel exports slipped 0.3% (+11.3% y/y). Total imports inched up 0.4% (-0.2 y/y) paced by a 0.6% (-0.2% y/y) rise in merchandise imports. Service imports fell 0.9% (-0.6% y/y) as travel imports fell 2.7% (+1.8% y/y).

Balance of Payments data are in Haver's USINT database, with summaries available in USECON. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

The Great Trade Collapse (and Recovery) from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

US Balance of Payments SA Q4'12 Q3'12 Q2'12 2012 2011 2010
Current Account Balance ($ Bil.) -110.4 -112.4 -118.4 -475.0 -466.0 -442.0
  Deficit % of GDP -2.8% 2.8% 3.0% 3.0% 3.1% 3.1%
 Balance on Goods ($ Bil.) -180.6 -174.2 -186.0 -735.3 -738.4 -645.1
  Exports -0.7% -0.2% 1.4% 4.5% 16.2% 20.5%
  Imports 0.6% -2.2% -0.5% 2.8% 15.6% 22.8%
 Balance on Services ($ Bil.) 52.2 49.3 48.3 195.8 178.5 150.4
  Exports 1.2% 0.0% 1.3% 4.0% 9.5% 8.7%
  Imports -0.9 -0.8% -0.3% 1.7% 6.0% 5.4%
Unilateral Transfers ($ Bil.) -34.4 -34.2 -32.8 -134.1 -133.1 -131.1
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