Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Jun 06 2024

U.S. Trade Deficit Increases Sharply in April

  • Deficit is highest since October 2022.
  • Exports rise modestly while imports surge with increased oil imports.
  • Adjusted for inflation, goods trade deficit increases to twelve-month high.
  • Goods trade deficit with China narrows but Europe’s deepens sharply.

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services (BOP basis) of $74.6 during April compared to $68.6 billion in March, revised from $69.4 billion and $69.0 in February, revised from $69.5 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit was the largest since April 2023 which was $72.8 billion. A $76.0 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Exports rose 0.8% (5.1% y/y) after a 1.7% March decline, revised from -2.0%. Imports increased 2.4% (4.5% y/y) after declining 1.5% in March, revised from a 1.6% drop. The data were revised back to 2019.

The deficit in goods trade (BOP value) increased to $99.2 billion in April from $93.3 billion in March. It was the deepest deficit June 2022. Goods exports rose 1.3% (3.9% y/y) after declining 2.8% in March. Imports of goods rose 3.1% (3.8% y/y) after declining 1.8%. The services trade surplus eased to $24.7 billion in April from $24.8 billion in March. Services exports slipped 0.2% (+7.4% y/y) following a 0.4% increase. Services imports eased 0.1% (+7.4% y/y) after declining 0.4% in March.

The real (inflation-adjusted) goods trade deficit (customs value; chained 2017 dollars), widened to $93.5 billion in April, the largest deficit in twelve months, from $88.8 billion in March. Real exports of goods rose 0.5% (4.9% y/y) after falling 3.2% in March. Real imports of goods increased 2.4% in April both m/m and y/y after falling 1.7% in March. In the first quarter of this year, a widening of the trade deficit (net exports) subtracted 0.89 percentage points from GDP growth after adding 0.25 percentage points to growth in Q4 2023.

The Census value goods trade deficit widened to $98.0 billion in April from $92.2 billion in March. The latest figure compared to a $99.4 billion deficit in the advance report released on May 30. Census value exports rose 1.3% (4.7% y/y) in April after a 2.90% March decline. Automotive vehicles, parts & engines rose 4.8% (3.1% y/y) after rising 0.5% in March while nonfood consumer goods excluding autos increased 5.7% (5.1% y/y) after easing 0.9%. Capital goods exports excluding autos improved 3.7% (7.3% y/y) after falling 3.9% while exports of industrial supplies & materials fell 1.7% (3.2% y/y) following a 2.9% drop. Foods, feeds & beverages exports were off 5.9% (-3.5% y/y) after declining 7.3% in March.

Census value imports of goods rose 3.1% (3.7% y/y) in April after falling 1.7% in March. Automotive vehicles, parts & engines imports increased 10.4% (12.3% y/y) reversing a 10.2% March decline while capital goods imports excluding autos rose 3.1% (2.8% y/y) after a 0.5% rise. Foods, feeds & beverage imports eased 0.4% (+6.4% y/y) after falling 3.2% in March. Imports of industrial supplies & materials rose 2.3% (-7.0% y/y) after a 1.7% weakening while nonfood consumer goods excluding autos slipped 0.3% (+1.0% y/y) after rising 2.1%. Meanwhile, petroleum imports rose 3.4% (1.1% y/y) after easing 0.3% in March. Nonpetroleum imports increased 2.3% (2.6% y/y) following a 1.8% decline.

The rise in services exports reflected a 1.3% increase (-3.8% y/y) in personal, cultural & recreational services after they fell 0.7% in March and a 1.7% decline (+13.3% y/y) in travel services exports after they eased 0.4%. Exports of construction services rose 3.9% (-5.3% y/y) after they fell 5.5% in March while government goods & services exports eased 0.1% (-33.8% y/y), the tenth consecutive month of decline. The 0.1% decline (+7.4% y/y) in services imports was due to construction services imports which rose 1.9% (25.2% y/y) after a 1.3% rise but travel services imports eased 0.6% (+9.6% y/y) after falling 2.3%. Imports of transport services declined 3.9% (+3.9% y/y) after falling 1.1% while charges for the use of intellectual property rose 2.3% (13.4% y/y) after a 0.6% March increase.

The U.S. goods trade deficit with China narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $22.1 billion in April from $24.5 billion in March. Exports rose 1.2% (-11.7% y/y) while imports fell 6.4% (-8.5% y/y). The goods trade deficit with the European Union deepened to $22.5 billion from $20.3 billion in March as exports rose 5.0% (3.4% y/y), and imports rose 7.5% (12.8% y/y). The trade deficit with Japan deepened to a seasonally adjusted $5.8 billion in April after narrowing to $5.3 billion in the previous month. Exports rose 1.3% (3.9% y/y) while imports increased 5.3% (-3.8% 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 in AS1REPNA.

  • Prior to joining Haver Analytics in 2000, Mr. Moeller worked as the Economist at Chancellor Capital Management from 1985 to 1999. There, he developed comprehensive economic forecasts and interpreted economic data for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. Also at Chancellor, Mr. Moeller worked as an equity analyst and was responsible for researching and rating companies in the economically sensitive automobile and housing industries for investment in Chancellor’s equity portfolio.   Prior to joining Chancellor, Mr. Moeller was an Economist at Citibank from 1979 to 1984.   He also analyzed pricing behavior in the metals industry for the Council on Wage and Price Stability in Washington, D.C.   In 1999, Mr. Moeller received the award for most accurate forecast from the Forecasters' Club of New York. From 1990 to 1992 he was President of the New York Association for Business Economists.   Mr. Moeller earned an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University, where he graduated in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from George Washington University.

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