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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Deepens as Imports Recover
by Tom Moeller  June 4, 2013

The U.S. foreign trade deficit deepened during April to $40.3B from $37.1B in March, revised from $38.8B. A $41.0B deficit had been expected. Data were revised back to January 1999. A 2.4% rebound (-1.4% y/y) in imports caused the m/m deterioration. Exports also recovered a lesser 1.2% (1.7% y/y). In chained 2009 dollars, the deficit in goods deepened to $47.6B. Real imports increased 3.3% (0.1% y/y) while real exports rose 2.0% (1.9% y/y).

The constant dollar value of nonauto consumer goods exports led the total's increase with a 13.5% jump (12.1% y/y). Motor vehicle exports also posted a firm 4.9% rise (4.2% y/y) while real capital goods exports gained 1.9% (0.4% y/y). Exports of foods, feeds and beverages fell 1.0% (-10.9% y/y) and industrial supplies exports slipped 0.5% (+2.4% y/y). Services exports gained 0.7% (4.3% y/y). Travel exports rose 0.9% (7.5% y/y) as the dollar's low value prompted more visits to the U.S. from abroad. Passenger fares, however, fell 2.4% (-1.0% y/y).

The quantity of petroleum product imports rose 5.6% m/m but was down 9.1% y/y. The price of crude oil rose further m/m to $97.82 from $96.95 yet was down from the $109.69 high last year. Real imports less petroleum increased 3.9% in April (2.7% y/y). Real auto imports rebounded 5.8% (5.5% y/y) while real consumer goods excluding autos jumped 6.9% (2.9% y/y). The constant dollar value of capital goods imports increased 2.5% (-0.0% y/y) but real imports of foods, feeds & beverages imports edged up 0.5% (4.8% y/y). Nominal services imports gained 0.8% (2.8% y/y) as travel imports increased 1.0% (2.6% y/y) but passenger fares fell 1.5% (+4.4% y/y).

By country, the April trade deficit in goods with mainland China deepened to $24.1B and reversed its sharp March improvement. Exports to China gained 6.2% y/y but U.S. imports ticked 0.3% higher y/y. With Japan, the deficit deepened to $6.9B. U.S. exports fell 13.1% y/y while imports slipped 0.8% y/y. The deficit with the European Union deepened sharply to $12.4, nearly its deepest since 2006. U.S. exports fell 5.4% y/y while imports rose 7.3% y/y.

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 (Current Dollars) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
U.S. Trade Deficit $40.3B $37.1B $43.8B $46.6B
$534.7B $556.8B $499.4B
Exports (%) 1.2 -1.0 0.2 1.7 4.6 14.5 16.9
Imports 2.4 -3.7 0.7 -1.4 2.8 13.9 19.5
  Petroleum -1.7 -6.5 -5.3 -20.9 -5.6 30.7 32.5
  Nonpetroleum goods 3.6 -4.0 1.8 2.4 5.2 12.1 20.8
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