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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Declines Modestly
by Tom Moeller  June 6, 2018

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services fell to $46.20 billion during April from $47.21 billion during March, revised from $48.96 billion. It was the smallest deficit since September. A $49.0 billion April deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Last quarter, improvement in the trade deficit had a modestly positive effect on real GDP growth following a sharply negative effect in Q4'17. Exports improved 0.3% (9.9% y/y) following a revised 2.2% gain. Imports eased 0.2% (+8.0% y/y) after a 1.4% decline. Foreign trade data were revised back to 2010.

The deficit on goods trade eased to $67.34 billion from $68.52 billion. Exports of goods gained 0.2% (11.3% y/y) following a 2.2% rise. Exports of foods, feeds & beverages jumped 5.6% (8.5% y/y) following an 8.2% surge.  Exports of industrial materials rose 3.0% (21.4% y/y) following a 3.0% increase. Nonauto consumer goods exports were up 0.4% (7.6% y/y) following a 2.4% rise. To the downside, exports of motor vehicles & parts fell 1.5% (+10.3 y/y) following a 2.3% decline. Capital goods exports declined 3.0% (+5.8% y/y) and reversed a 3.9% rise.

Imports of goods slipped 0.4% (+8.0% y/y) following a 1.4% drop. Working lower were nonauto consumer product imports which fell 5.1% (+3.0% y/y) following a 1.8% drop. Motor vehicle & parts imports were off 2.9% (+0.7% y/y) after a 0.6% fall. Foods, feeds & beverage imports fell 0.5% (+7.9% y/y) after a 1.9% decline. Increasing were capital goods imports which improved 0.7% (10.3% y/y) after a 1.9% drop. Industrial supplies & materials imports rose 2.5% (15.2% y/y) after a 0.8% fall.

All non-petroleum goods imports declined 0.9% (+6.6% y/y) after a 1.4% fall. Petroleum imports increased 4.9% (24.7% y/y) following two months of decline. The per barrel cost of crude oil rose to $54.50 (20.0% y/y), up from a $27.49 low in February 2016. The value of energy-related petroleum product imports increased 6.3% (24.6% y/y) after a 9.6% rise. The quantity of energy-related product imports rose 4.4% (3.3% y/y) after a 10.7% increase.

The surplus on services trade was unchanged at $22.2 billion in April. Services exports increased 0.6% (8.6% y/y) after a 1.2% decline Travel exports eased 0.3% (+2.6% y/y) after a 0.1% slip. Charges for the use of intellectual property gained 0.8% (5.8% y/y) after a 0.8% rise. Transport exports gained 1.0% (8.9% y/y) following a 0.4% decline.

Imports of services rose 0.6% (8.6% y/y) after a 1.2% decline. Charges for the use of intellectual property increased 1.6% (22.1% y/y) after a 15.5% decline. U.S. residents' travel abroad held steady (8.1% y/y) following a 1.6% increase. Transport charges strengthened 1.6% (6.0% y/y), after a 0.2% gain.

By country, the goods trade deficit with China deepened m/m to $28.0 billion in April (NSA) after a $25.9 billion deficit in March. Exports rose 4.7% y/y while imports rose 2.0% y/y. The deficit with the European Union deepened m/m to $14.6 billion (NSA) from $12.1 billion. Exports increased 17.2% y/y and imports rose 16.0% y/y. The trade deficit with Japan eased m/m to $6.3 billion (NSA) from $6.4 billion as exports declined 2.2% y/y and imports increased 8.1% 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 Forecast Survey, which is carried in AS1REPNA.

Foreign Trade in Goods & Services (Current $) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
U.S. Trade Deficit $46.20 bil. $47.21 bil. $55.54 bil. $45.07 bil.
(4/17)
$552.28 bil. $502.00 bil. $498.53 bil.
Exports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 0.3 2.2 1.8 9.9 6.1 -2.5 -4.6
Imports of Goods & Services (% Chg) -0.2 -1.4 2.4 8.0 6.8 -1.9 -3.5
  Petroleum (% Chg) 4.9 -2.0 -0.9 24.7 27.2 -19.5 -45.5
  Nonpetroleum Goods (% Chg) -0.9 -1.4 2.9 6.6 5.6 -1.2 2.2
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