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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Widens to Six-Month High
by Tom Moeller  April 5, 2016

The U.S. foreign trade deficit increased to $47.1 billion during February from $45.9 billion in January, revised from $45.7 billion. It was the deepest trade deficit since August. A deficit of $46.2 billion was expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Exports of goods & services increased 1.0% (-4.2% y/y) while imports rose 1.3% (0.3% y/y).

The trade deficit in goods widened to $64.7 billion from $63.9 billion. Goods exports increased 1.6% (-6.1% y/y) as nonauto consumer goods exports jumped 6.7% (-2.4% y/y). Auto & parts exports increased 2.8% (8.6% y/y) but capital goods exports were off 4.1% (-2.0% y/y). Foods, feeds & beverage exports fell 9.9% (-6.0% y/y) and exports of industrial supplies & materials declined 13.7% (-11.2% y/y). Imports of goods rose 1.5% (-0.6% y/y), fueled by a 7.5% surge (16.6% y/y) in nonauto consumer goods. Foods, feeds & beverage imports increased 4.6% (11.3% y/y) and capital goods imports gained 2.1% (4.6% y/y). Imports of autos & parts declined 5.0% (+11.9% y/y).

The dollar value of energy related imports declined 18.5% (-39.7% y/y) as the quantity fell 6.0% (+9.7% y/y). The dollar value of crude petroleum imports fell 18.8% (-38.0% y/y) while the per barrel cost of crude fell to $27.48 (-44.5% y/y).

The surplus in services trade declined to $17.7 billion from $18.0 billion. Exports of services eased 0.1% (-0.1% y/y) though travel exports jumped 1.2% (3.3% y/y). Financial services exports fell 0.9% ((-4.4% y/y) and transport services exports were off 2.7% (-5.9% y/y). Services imports gained 0.6% (4.4% y/y) as travel imports increased 1.0% (10.0% y/y). Transport services imports rose 0.9% (-0.5% y/y), but financial services imports were off 1.4% (+7.8% y/y).

By country, the trade deficit in goods with China eased to $28.1 billion from $28.9 billion in January. Exports to China fell 7.5% from a year ago, but imports were up 15.8% y/y. The trade deficit with Japan deepened to $5.3 billion from $4.9 billion; exports were down 1.3% from a year ago, but imports rebounded 11.9%. The deficit in goods trade with the European Union deepened to $9.9 billion. Exports to the EU increased 1.2% from a year ago, and imports increased 2.7% y/y.

The international trade data can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures are available in the USINT database. The expectations figures are from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, which is carried in the AS1REPNA.

Foreign Trade in Goods & Services (Current Dollars) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
U.S. Trade Deficit $47.1 bil. $45.9 bil. $44.7 bil. $38.6 bil.
(2/15)
$539.8 bil. $508.3 $478.4 bil.
Exports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 1.0 -2.2 -0.3 -4.2 -5.1 2.8 2.8
Imports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 1.3 -1.2 0.2 0.3 -3.1 3.4 0.1
  Petroleum -11.8 -13.7 1.7 -39.8 -45.5 -9.7 -11.0
  Nonpetroleum 2.4 -0.6 0.1 3.9 2.2 6.1 2.0
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