Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Trade Deficit decreased in March to $40.4 Billion

by Bill McBride on 5/04/2016 08:42:00 AM

The Department of Commerce reported:

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that the goods and services deficit was $40.4 billion in March, down $6.5 billion from $47.0 billion in February, revised. March exports were $176.6 billion, $1.5 billion less than February exports. March imports were $217.1 billion, $8.1 billion less than February imports.
The trade deficit was smaller than the consensus forecast of $41.4 billion.

The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through March 2016.

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

Both imports and exports decreased in March.

Exports are 6% above the pre-recession peak and down 5% compared to March 2015; imports are 6% below the pre-recession peak, and down 9% compared to March 2015. 

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

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 imports averaged $27.68 in March, up from $27.48 in February, and down from $46.47 in March 2015.  The petroleum deficit has generally been declining and is the major reason the overall deficit has declined a little since early 2012.

The trade deficit with China decreased to $20.9 billion in March, from $31.2 billion in March 2015 (there was a surge in imports last year in March -as ships were unloaded - following the West Coast port slowdown). The deficit with China is a substantial portion of the overall deficit.