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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Widens As Imports Surge
by Tom Moeller  January 7, 2021

• Trade deficit increases to highest level since August 2006.

• Import rise fueled by higher oil prices.

• Exports decline y/y as overseas economies remain weak.

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services widened to $68.1 billion during November from an unrevised $63.1 billion in October. September also was unrevised at $62.1 billion. The Action Economics Forecast Survey anticipated $65.2 billion. Imports increased 2.9% (0.3% y/y) while exports rose 1.2% (-12.5% y/y).

The deficit in goods trade increased to $86.4 billion in November from $81.4 billion. Exports of goods rose 1.0% (-6.7% y/y) as non-auto consumer goods improved 1.1% (-2.4% y/y). Imports of goods gained 3.1% (6.0% y/y), driven by a 7.0% increase in nonauto consumer goods imports (17.9% y/y). Petroleum imports grew 1.7% (-34.1% y/y). Oil import volumes declined 4.9% (-6.4% y/y). Non-petroleum imports rose 3.2% (9.2% y/y). Greater detail covering international trade in goods can be found here.

The surplus on trade in services held steady m/m at $18.2 billion. The value of services exports grew 1.5% (-23.4% y/y) led by an 11.4% gain in travel (-72.3%). Charges for the use of intellectual property eased 0.5% (+0.3% y/y). Imports of services gained 2.4% (-22.5% y/y) also led by a 19.9% (-77.7% y/y) rise in travel. Charges for imports of intellectual property eased 0.7% (+14.0% y/y).

The goods trade deficit with China widened to $30.0 billion in November from $26.5 billion in October. Exports to China fell 3.8% (+40.5% y/y) while imports rose 7.5% (24.5% y/y). The trade deficit with the European Union grew to $16.7 billion. Exports to the EU rose 4.9% (-8.4% y/y) while imports gained 5.6% (0.7% y/y). The deficit with Japan deepened to -$6.6 billion. Exports to Japan declined 1.3% (-12.4% y/y) and imports rose 8.1% (2.6% y/y).

The international trade data, including relevant data on oil prices, can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures on international trade 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 $) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
U.S. Trade Deficit ($ bil.) 68.1 63.1 62.1 41.1
(11/19)
576.9 579.9 513.8
Exports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 1.2 2.2 2.4 -12.5 -0.4 6.4 6.7
Imports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 2.9 2.1 0.6 0.3 -0.5 7.5 6.7
  Petroleum (% Chg) 1.7 2.9 0.1 -34.1 -14.0 20.8 27.2
  Nonpetroleum Goods (% Chg) 3.2 2.3 0.0 9.2 -0.4 7.4 5.5
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