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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Nears Record in November
by Tom Moeller  January 6, 2022

• October's narrowing is mostly reversed.

• Petroleum imports continue to rise with higher prices.

• Exports are little changed

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services deepened to $80.2 billion during November after shrinking to $67.2 billion in October, revised from $67.1 billion. A deficit of $75.5 billion had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Exports edged 0.2% higher (21.1% y/y) in November following an 8.2% October surge. Imports rose 4.6% (20.6% y/y) after increasing 1.0% in October.

The trade deficit in goods deepened to a record $99.0 billion after shrinking to $83.9 billion in October. It compared to a $97.8 billion deficit in the advance report issued last week. Exports of goods declined 1.8% (+23.0% y/y) after an 11.1% October surge. Nonauto consumer goods exports weakened 3.0% (+27.0% y/y) in November after six consecutive monthly increases. Industrial supplies & materials exports fell 1.5% (38.1% y/y) after a 12.4% increase. Capital goods exports declined 2.7% (+14.0% y/y) in November after rising 7.3%. Auto exports declined 2.0% (-2.2% y/y) following a 14.1% jump. To the upside, exports of foods, feeds & beverages rose 5.1% (16.1% y/y) after surging 17.1% in October.

Imports of goods increased 5.0% in November (19.4% y/y) after rising roughly 0.9% in each of the prior three months. Auto imports surged 4.5% (-8.7% y/y) after rising 5.7% in October. Foods, feeds & beverage imports strengthened 3.4% (22.8% y/y) after a 1.9% gain. Nonauto consumer goods imports rose 4.6% (10.8 % y/y) after rising 1.5% in October. Capital goods imports edged 0.4% higher (13.1% y/y) after falling 0.7% in October. Industrial supplies & materials imports improved 10.3% (60.9% y/y) after easing 0.8% in October.

Petroleum imports rose 7.8% in November and more than doubled y/y. The monthly rise occurred as the price of crude oil strengthened 5.2% to an average $72.3 per barrel from $68.77 in October. The price has roughly doubled y/y. Nonpetroleum imports rose 4.7% (14.8% y/y) after modest gains in the prior two months.

The real (adjusted for price changes) trade deficit in goods widened to a near-record $110.8 billion (chained 2012 dollars) in November from $97.1 billion in October. Real exports of goods declined 2.5% (+4.3% y/y) in November after a 9.6% October gain. Real imports of goods rose 4.0% (8.2% y/y) after easing 0.3% in October.

The surplus of trade in services increased to $18.8 billion in November, its largest surplus since June. The surplus remained down from a high of $26.7 billion in January 2018. The value of services exports rose 5.0% (16.9% y/y) as travel exports rose roughly one-third (103.3% y/y) after rising 9.0% in October. Service imports improved a steady 2.3% (25.3% y/y) including a 4.2% rise (183.3% y/y) in travel imports.

The trade deficit with China was little changed at a seasonally adjusted $28.4 billion. Exports rose 0.4% (11.3% y/y) while imports also edged 0.4% higher (3.2% y/y). The trade deficit with Japan held steady at $3.6 billion as exports rose 2.4% (33.8% y/y) and imports rose 1.5% (-10.1% y/y). The goods trade deficit with the European Union widened to $19.4 billion, a record for the series which dates back to 2009. Exports fell 2.2% (+19.7% y/y) and imports rose 5.3% (17.2% 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.

Foreign Trade in Goods & Services (Current $) Nov Oct Sep Nov '20 2020 2019 2018
U.S. Trade Deficit ($ bil.) 80.17 67.16 81.44 67.31 676.69 576.34 580.95
Y/Y%
Exports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 0.2 8.2 -3.0 21.1 -15.6 -0.4 6.2
Imports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 4.6 1.0 0.6 20.6 -9.5 -0.5 7.4
  Petroleum (% Chg) 7.8 2.5 4.3 118.9 -39.7 -14.0 20.8
  Nonpetroleum Goods (% Chg) 4.7 0.7 0.6 14.8 -3.5 -0.5 7.3
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