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Economy in Brief

U.S. Current Account Deficit Shrinks; Exports Rise and Imports Fall
by Tom Moeller  June 20, 2019

The U.S. current account deficit narrowed to $130.4 billion during Q1'19 from $143.9 billion during Q4'18, revised from $134.4 billion. It compared to a $125.0 billion deficit expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. As a percent of GDP, the deficit narrowed to 2.5% from 2.8% in Q4.

The smaller deficit last quarter was due to a lessened $216.5 billion shortfall on goods trade. Goods exports rose 0.6% (2.1 % y/y) and reversed the Q4 decline, while goods imports declined 2.1% (+0.7% y/y) following a 0.3% rise.

The surplus on services trade was little changed at $61.9 billion, but earlier surpluses were revised down. Services exports rose 1.1% (0.8% y/y) after holding steady in Q4. Telecommunications, computer & information services exports gained 0.6% (5.6% y/y) after two quarters of strong increase. Exports of intellectual property rights declined 0.7% (-6.4% y/y), the fourth straight quarter of decline. Travel exports improved 2.6% (0.5% y/y). Services imports gained 1.1% (5.3% y/y) after two quarters of stronger increase. Charges for intellectual property rose 0.3% (2.1% y/y) and travel imports strengthened 1.8% (7.0% y/y). Telecommunications, computer & information services imports rose 1.8% (7.4% y/y).

The surplus on primary income rose modestly to $61.1 billion, down versus the record high of $66.4 billion reached one year earlier. The deficit on secondary income widened to a record $36.9 billion.

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

US Balance of Payments SA Q1'19 Q4'18 Q3'18 2018 2017 2016
Current Account Balance ($ Billion) -130.4 -143.9 -125.7 -491.0 -439.6 -428.3
  Deficit % of GDP -2.5 -2.8 -2.4 2.4 2.3 2.3
 Balance on Goods ($ Billion) -216.5 -232.3 -227.9 -887.3 -805.2 -749.8
  Exports 0.6% -0.6% -1.8% 7.8% 6.6% -3.6%
  Imports -2.1% 0.3% 2.2% 8.6% 6.9% -2.9%
 Balance on Services ($ Billion) 61.9 61.2 64.5 259.7 255.1 246.8
  Exports 1.1% 0.0% 0.3% 3.5% 5.3% 0.4%
  Imports 1.1% 2.4% 1.8% 4.3% 6.3% 4.0%
 Balance on Primary Income ($ Billion) 61.1 60.1 64.7 254.0 225.8 198.7
 Balance on Secondary Income ($ Billion) -36.9 -32.8 -27.0 -117.3 -115.3 -124.0
 
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