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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Narrows in April from Record
by Tom Moeller  June 7, 2022

• Exports strengthen but imports decline.

• Petroleum imports rise with higher prices.

• Export gain is broad-based.

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services (BOP basis) fell to $87.08 billion in April from $107.65 billion in March, revised from $109.80 billion. Expectations had been for an $89.4 deficit in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Exports rose 3.5% (21.7% y/y) after a 4.9% March gain, revised from 5.6%. Imports fell 3.4% (+24.3% y/y) after rising 9.6% in April, revised from 10.3% (27.0% y/y).

The trade deficit in goods (customs value) narrowed to $106.70 billion from $125.66 billion. It compared to a deficit of $105.94 billion in the advance report released on May 27. Exports of goods rose 3.6% (21.7% y/y), the third consecutive month of strong increase. Gains were broad-based amongst categories. Industrial supplies exports gained 3.4% (35.3% y/y). Auto exports improved 0.7% (9.5% y/y) and foods, feeds & beverages surged 14.3% (28.0% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods exports rose 2.0% (24.0% y/y) and capital goods exports strengthened 2.7% (7.0% y/y).

Imports of goods declined 4.4% (+22.4% y/y), the first decline in nine months. Industrial supplies imports weakened 7.0% (+42.1% y/y) and nonauto consumer goods imports fell 7.7% (+20.7% y/y). Auto imports rose 4.3% (15.9% y/y) and capital goods imports declined 3.5% (+13.0% y/y). Foods, feeds & beverages imports rose 2.5% (24.4% y/y).

Petroleum imports rose 2.6% in April and increased by two-thirds y/y with higher prices. Crude oil prices rose to $95.69 per barrel from $88.93 per barrel in March. Nonpetroleum imports fell 5.0% (+19.3% y/y) following an 11.3% March increase.

The real (inflation-adjusted) goods trade deficit narrowed to $116.20 billion (chained 2012 dollars) in April from $135.50 in March. Real exports of goods rose 3.2% (5.5% y/y) after a 1.7% increase. Real imports of goods declined 5.1% (+10.3% y/y) following an 8.8% increase.

The surplus on services trade rose to $20.66 billion in April, its second month of improvement. The surplus remained significantly below a high of $26.72 billion in January 2018. Services exports rose 3.3% (20.1% y/y), the third consecutive monthly increase. Travel exports strengthened 16.5% (129.9% y/y). Services imports improved 1.7% (33.1% y/y), the first rise in three months. Travel imports rose 7.5% (160.9% y/y) after a 15.9% March increase.

The goods trade deficit with China narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $34.93 billion in April from the record $43.24 billion set in March. Exports fell 11.6% (-6.2% y/y) while imports weakened 17.7% (+11.8% y/y). The trade deficit with Japan eased to $5.61 billion from $6.18 billion as exports declined 9.5% (-5.0% y/y) and imports were off 9.4% (-0.8% y/y). The goods trade deficit with the European Union deepened to $16.98 billion in April from $15.93 billion in March. Exports increased 1.7% (33.4% y/y) and imports rose 3.4% (18.2% 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.

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