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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Widens Again
by Carol Stone, CBE  January 6, 2017

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services increased further in November to $45.2 billion from $42.4 billion in October, revised slightly from $42.6 billion; the deficit was $36.2 billion in September. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a $42.4 billion deficit for November. Total imports rose 1.1% (2.8% y/y) in that latest month, following 1.2% in October; petroleum was mainly responsible, although nonpetroleum import also rose. Exports edged lower by 0.2% (+1.2% y/y), much less than their 1.8% drop in October.

Imports of goods increased 1.4% (2.8% y/y) following a similar 1.4% rise in October. Petroleum product imports surged 7.6% (15.0% y/y), as the price per barrel of crude oil rose to $40.82, the highest since July. The quantity of energy-related petroleum product imports increased 5.9% (+15.9% y/y). Nonpetroleum goods advanced 0.9% (+2.0% y/y) after October's 1.3% rise. Among major categories, industrial supplies & materials (which include petroleum) were up 6.0% (11.2% y/y), foods, feeds & beverages rose 2.1% (6.9% y/y) and "other" goods imports increased 1.7% (1.8% y/y); autos & parts imports edged higher 0.5% (+0.1% y/y). After a strong 2.2% gain in October, capital goods fell 0.3% (+0.3% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods imports decreased 0.2% for November (+0.5% y/y).

Services imports decreased 0.6% (2.9% y/y) in November following a 0.3% increase. Travel imports fell 1.7% (5.0% y/y), and transport imports fell 1.3% (1.9% y/y).

Exports of goods declined 0.6% (+0.9% y/y) after a 2.8% decrease. Foods, feeds & beverage exports were down 1.7% (+9.2% y/y). Capital goods exports fell 4.1% (-5.5% y/y), autos & parts, 2.4% (-4.9% y/y) and "other" goods, 11.8% (+5.7% y/y). In contrast, industrial supplies & materials exports gained 4.3% (+7.7% y/y) and nonauto consumer goods exports rose 3.0% (2.5% y/y).

Services exports rose 0.4% (1.9% y/y) after a slim 0.1% rise in October. Travel exports rose 0.4% (+3.3% y/y) and transport exports gained 0.6% (-1.5% y/y).

By country, the trade deficit with China decreased modestly to $30.5 billion in November from $31.1 billion in the month before. U.S. exports to China fell 4.6% m/m (14.1% y/y), while imports fell 2.7% (1.7% y/y). The trade deficit with Japan was unchanged in November at $5.9 billion. Exports were down 5.9% (+10.1% y/y), while imports decreased 3.2% (6.3% y/y). The trade deficit with the European Union (EU-28) widened to $14.8 billion from $13.1 billion, as exports declined 9.2% (-5.4% y/y) and imports from the EU-28 decreased 1.3% (-0.0% y/y). These country data are not seasonally adjusted.

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) Nov Oct Sep Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
U.S. Trade Deficit $45.2 bil. $42.4 bil. $36.2 bil. $41.1 bil.
(11/15)
$500.4 bil. $490.2 bil. $461.9 bil.
Exports of Goods & Services (% Chg) -0.2 -1.8 0.9 1.2 -4.9 3.6 3.4
Imports of Goods & Services (% Chg) 1.1 1.2 -1.2 2.8 -3.7 4.0 0.0
  Petroleum (% Chg) 7.6 2.5 0.3 15.0 -45.5 -9.6 -11.0
  Nonpetroleum Goods (% Chg) 0.9 1.3 -1.0 2.0 2.2 6.5 2.0
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