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Economy in Brief

Advance U.S. Trade Deficit in Goods Deepens in March
by Tom Moeller  April 28, 2020

• Exports and imports decline sharply.

• Export weakness was broad-based.

• Import declines were mixed amongst product categories.

The advance estimate of the U.S. trade deficit in goods grew to $64.22 billion in March from $59.88 in February. A $53.6 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Exports of goods declined 6.7% m/m (-8.9% y/y) in March following a 0.7% rise. The m/m weakness reflected declines in each of the export categories. Motor vehicles & parts exports weakened 17.8% (-18.8% y/y) in March after two months of strong increase. Exports of "other" goods fell 8.1% (-4.2% y/y) last month following a 5.3% February increase. Industrial supplies exports were off 7.5% (-5.1% y/y) after rising 1.6%. Exports of nonauto consumer goods weakened 5.0% (-5.4% y/y) after falling 4.2%. A 4.3% decline (-9.8% y/y) in capital goods exports came after edging 0.5% higher in February. Foods, feeds & beverages exports eased 0.1% (+0.7% y/y), off slightly for the second consecutive month.

Imports of goods fell 2.4% (-9.6% y/y) in March, about the same as they did in February. The decline was led by a 9.0% falloff (-12.8% y/y) in imports of automotive parts & engines which followed a 4.8% rise. Nonauto consumer goods imports weakened 8.3% (-14.9% y/y) after falling 2.1%. Increases were posted last month in all other import categories. Capital goods imports improved 2.7% (-7.4% y/y) after falling for two months. Foods, feeds & beverage imports rose 3.4% (-0.5% y/y) and reversed February's shortfall. Imports of "other" merchandise improved 2.7% (5.3% y/y), about as they did in February. Industrial supplies & materials imports gained 0.4% (-9.4% y/y) following two months of sharp decline.

The advance international trade data can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure is from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, which is carried in AS1REPNA.

Advance U.S. Foreign Trade in Goods (Current Customs Value $) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
U.S. Trade Deficit ($ bil.) 64.22 59.88 65.90 71.45
852.79 874.81 793.41
Exports (% Chg) -6.7 0.7 -1.1 -8.9 -1.2 7.7 6.5
Imports (% Chg) -2.4 -2.5 -1.9 -9.6 -1.7 8.6 7.0
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