Thursday, May 02, 2013

Trade Deficit declined in March to $38.8 Billion

by Bill McBride on 5/02/2013 09:27:00 AM

The Department of Commerce reported:

[T]otal March exports of $184.3 billion and imports of $223.1 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $38.8 billion, down from $43.6 billion in February, revised. March exports were $1.7 billion less than February exports of $186.0 billion. March imports were $6.5 billion less than February imports of $229.6 billion.
The trade deficit was lower than the consensus forecast of $42.4 billion.

The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through March 2013.

U.S. Trade Exports Imports Click on graph for larger image.

Exports declined slightly in March, and imports declined even more, so the deficit declined.

Exports are 11% above the pre-recession peak and unchanged compared to March 2012; imports are 4% below the pre-recession peak, and down 6% compared to March 2012.

The second graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum, through March.

U.S. Trade Deficit The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

Oil averaged $96.95 in March, up from  $95.96 per barrel in February, but down from $107.95 in March 2012.  Oil import prices should start falling in April.

The trade deficit with the euro area was $8.3 billion in March, down slightly from $8.8 billion in March 2012.

The trade deficit with China decreased to $17.9 billion in March, up from $21.7 billion in March 2012.   Note: The decline in the trade deficit with China was related to the timing of the Chinese New Year.