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Economy in Brief

U.S. Goods Trade Deficit Widens to Record in December
by Tom Moeller  January 26, 2022

• Export growth paced by consumer goods.

• Consumer & capital goods lead import gain.

The advance estimate of the U.S. international trade deficit in goods widened in December to a record $101.0 billion from $98.0 billion in November. During all of 2021, the deficit widened to a record $1.086 trillion. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a December deficit of $96.1 billion. Exports of goods rose 1.4% (19.9% y/y) following a 1.9% decline in November. Goods imports increased 2.0% in December (20.1% y/y) after surging 5.0% in November.

The rise in December exports was led by a 6.5% jump (34.0% y/y) in nonauto consumer goods which followed a 3.0% November decline. Auto & parts exports also rose 6.5% last month (-1.1% y/y) which came after a 2.0% decline. Capital goods exports followed with a 1.9% rise (13.2% y/y) after weakening 2.7% in November. Exports of industrial supplies & materials edged 0.7% higher at yearend (33.8% y/y) after falling 1.5%. To the downside, exports of foods, feeds and beverages were off 7.8% in December (+0.3% y/y) after surging for two consecutive months.

The December increase in imports was led by an 8.4% jump (-6.3% y/y) in imports of autos & parts. It followed two months of strong increase. Nonauto consumer goods imports surged 7.6% (21.6% y/y) after rising 4.6% in November. Capital goods imports rose 3.5% last month (16.1% y/y) after edging 0.4% higher in November. To the downside, industrial supplies & materials imports (which include petroleum products) fell 5.3% (+43.9% y/y) following a 10.3% November rise. Imports of foods, feeds and beverages declined 4.6% (+19.9%) after rising 3.4% in November.

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 in AS1REPNA.

Advance U.S. Foreign Trade in Goods (Census Basis) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y 2021 2020 2019
U.S. Trade Balance ($ bil.) -100.96 -98.04 -83.11 -83.86 (12/20) -1,085.73 -911.06 -850.92
Exports (% Chg) 1.4 -1.9 11.1 19.9 23.0 -13.3 -1.4
Imports (% Chg) 2.0 5.0 0.8 20.1 21.5 -6.3 -1.7

Note: Current month is based on Advance Trade data; Previous months reflect revised data from International Trade release.

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